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Select Committee recommendations on Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill

Topic covered: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Select Committee recommendations on Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Key features, changes and significance.

Context: 15 major changes have been suggested in a report presented by the Select Committee on Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill.

The bill prohibits commercial surrogacy and allow only altruistic surrogacy.

Background:

The Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha in August 2019, but had to be referred for re-assessment to the select committee in November 2019, as several Rajya Sabha members found certain clauses contentious such as allowing only altruistic surrogacy with a near relative as a surrogate.

Key Recommendations:

  1. Keep an option for compensating the surrogate mother beyond medical expenses and insurance coverage that includes taking care of her nutritional food requirements, maternity wear, etc. that is vital for the wellbeing and upkeep of the surrogate mother.
  2. The controversial clause of “close relative” has been done away with and instead the committee has recommended the term to be replaced with a “willing woman”.
  3. Who can opt? Single women, including a widow and divorcee, between the ages of 35 and 45 years, should be able to opt for surrogacy.
  4. Increase insurance cover for the surrogate mother from the 16 months proposed in the Bill to 36 months.
  5. In order to protect the interests of the child born through surrogacy, the order regarding the parentage and custody of the child, issued by a Magistrate, shall be the birth affidavit for the surrogate child.

Need for regulation:

India has emerged as a surrogacy hub for couples from other countries and there have been reports concerning unethical practices, exploitation of surrogate mothers, abandonment of children born out of surrogacy, and rackets involving intermediaries importing human embryos and gametes. The 228th report of the Law Commission of India has recommended prohibiting commercial surrogacy and allowing altruistic surrogacy by enacting suitable legislation.

Sources: the Hindu.