Lok Sabha on Wednesday passed The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill that prohibits commercial surrogacy and only allows altruistic surrogacy for legally married Indian couples. Furthermore, the Bill defines a couple as “legally married Indian man and woman above the age of 21 years and 18 years respectively”, thus prohibiting same-sex couples, single/unmarried people and foreigners from availing surrogacy.
The bill bans commercial surrogacy, and allows only married Indian heterosexual couples who have been married for at least 5 years to opt for surrogacy. They will have to produce a medical certificate testifying that at least one of them is infertile. Furthermore, only a close relative can act as a surrogate. The bill prohibits any kind of payments to the surrogate mother, except those related to medical costs. NRIs, foreigners, same-sex couples and live-in partners or single people will not be able to opt for surrogacy.
Health Minister JP Nadda placed the Bill in the house said different sections of society, political parties, the Supreme Court and the Law Commission have spoken against commercial surrogacy and that the Bill addresses these concerns.
However, various MPs raised concerns regarding the shortcomings of the Bill. Dr Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar from Trinamool Congress pointed out that now that Section 377 no longer applied to same-sex couples, the bill should have taken them into consideration. She also said that the same House had passed the Transgender Bill a day before, and the Surrogacy Bill doesn’t allow them to avail of surrogacy either. “Two male couples require a surrogate mother; two female couples do not need it necessarily but we still have to include them in the bill,” she said.
Supriya Sule of the NCP asked the 5 year period to be waived off for couples with fertility problems. She also said that when single parents are allowed to adopt children, why not allow surrogacy for them?
The Bill was passed after a 1 hour discussion and will now be going to the Rajya Sabha. If Rajya Sabha too passes the bill, it will become a law.
India had become a favourite destination of many gay couples from foreign countries, who availed of surrogacy services to beget a child. If the Bill becomes a law, not just gay couples from outside India, but even those from India will no longer be able to have their own children.