Single People, Homosexuals & Others Barred By India's New Surrogacy Bill

Single People, Homosexuals & Others Barred By India's New Surrogacy Bill

On Wednesday the Union Cabinet cleared the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill 2016 which aims to streamline the use of commercial surrogacy in India. While this in theory is to regulate the practice and prevent its misuse there are a number of additional clauses tacked on to this bill which dilute that goal. It states that foreigners, overseas Indians, homosexuals, people in live-in relationships and single individuals are not eligible for surrogacy. That means that the only straight Indian couples can make use of the opportunity, that too only if they’ve been together a minimum of five years and are still childless.
Ministers and health officials are welcoming this move, in particular Minister for external affairs Sushma Swaraj favours this bill and all its caveats. She condemned celebrities who had children via surrogacy while already having biological and regarding the ban on homosexual couples she believes “Each country has to make laws that are aligned with our values, as per a legal framework. Homosexual couples are not recognised by law in India.” There are however some members of the legal community that are outraged by the premise. Hari G Ramasubramanian, surrogacy law expert says “Surrogacy cannot be seen as illegal and immoral. The draft Bill is both draconian and unreasonable. It is a violation of the reproductive right of the surrogate mother,”

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While this bill is gaining major support from the political arena, the medical community aren’t quite as happy about the move. They are all for a move to protect against misuse but there are  feelings that the conditions applied are insensitive to modern family set-ups. Medical ethicist Dr Anant Bhan said, “I am totally in support of better regulation, but the blanket statement that only people from the immediate family can be surrogates or people who are not unmarried or are ‘homosexual’ cannot, suggests that we are making a value judgement. This seems unacceptable in today’s age.” They also resent not being consulted during the drafting of the bill because not only are personal sensitivities being discounted but economically this will hurt our infrastructure.
India is one of the few places in the world to allow commercial surrogacy and as such we gain a lot from couples coming from all over the world in the hopes of having a child. As infertility specialist Dr. Aniruddha Malpani says “(the bill) virtually spelt death to surrogacy because it will take away a lot from couples who are infertile, it will be bad for women who benefitted from surrogacy and even the nation which will miss out on medical tourism.”
The eventual aim of this bill is to put a stop to surrogacy in India altogether, health minister J.P Nadda has allowed 10 months for the surrogacies that are already underway to be completed before they start to enforce the new laws. Whatever way the public falls on the matter it seems likely that India will no longer be a haven for surrogacy and the practise is officially in its final days.

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