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Lok Sabha passed the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019

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On August 5, 2019, Lok Sabha passed the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019 through a voice vote which aims to prohibit commercial surrogacy in India. The Bill defines surrogacy as a practice where a woman gives birth to a child for an intending couple with the intention to hand over the child after the birth to the intending couple.Surrogacy (Regulation) Bil

  • Background: It was introduced in the Lok Sabha by the Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare Dr Harsh Vardhan on July 15, 2019.
  • Reason: 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.
  • Recommendations: The 228th report of the Law Commission of India recommended prohibiting commercial surrogacy and allowing altruistic surrogacy by enacting suitable legislation.
  • Altruistic surrogacy arrangement: The Bill includes contracting a ‘close relative’ as a surrogate by a heterosexual married couple who have been childless.
  • Criteria for intending couple: The intending couple should have a ‘certificate of essentiality’ and a ‘certificate of eligibility’ issued by the appropriate authority. The couple should be Indian citizens and married for at least 5 years with the age between 23 to 50 years old for a woman and between 26 to 55 years old for a man, provided they do not have any surviving child (biological, adopted or surrogate) and meet other conditions that may be specified by regulations.
  • Criteria for surrogate mother: To obtain a certificate of eligibility from the appropriate authority, the surrogate mother has to be a close relative of the intending couple, a married woman having a child of her own, 25 to 35 years old, a surrogate only once in her lifetime and possess a certificate of medical and psychological fitness for surrogacy. The surrogate mother cannot provide her own gametes for surrogacy.
  • Penalty: The penalty for offences is imprisonment up to 10 years and a fine which may extend to Rs 10 lakh.
  • Purposes for which surrogacy is permitted: Surrogacy is permitted when it is for intending couples who suffer from proven infertility, altruistic, not for commercial purposes, not for producing children for sale, prostitution or other forms of exploitation and for any condition or disease specified through regulations.
  • National and State Surrogacy Boards: The central and the state governments shall constitute the National Surrogacy Board (NSB) and the State Surrogacy Boards (SSB) respectively.
  • Appropriate authority: The central and state governments shall appoint one or more appropriate authorities within 90 days of the Bill becoming an Act.