SURROGACY-What does it Mean?
- Surrogacy means lending the womb in exchange of money.
- This method was first introduced in India with the birth of the first surrogate baby in the year 1984.
- India is a country where legal provisions for the practice of surrogacy are at par with international standards.
- Separately trained staff and doctors are available in India for this procedure and training is provided by the government on a regular basis based on latest technology available for surrogacy.
- A number of other assisted reproductive technologies like IVF are available in India.
- India provides relaxations in health visas so as to increase its revenues through medical tourism.
What are the Issues related to surrogacy?
- The issues related to surrogacy initiated after the nationalization issue of a child abandoned by a foreign couple.
- Health of the surrogate mother: Till 2013, various sociological groups appreciated the practice of surrogacy by saying that it provides income to women, especially those in the 25-55 age bracket.
- All the assisted reproductive centres are world class centres, taking care of all health related issues of a surrogate mother. But in 2013, Goonj (NGO) and other organizations criticized surrogacy on various grounds.
- Multiple pregnancies have an adverse impact on the health of the woman and also impacts the well-being of their own children.
- Even if it is a surrogate child, emotional trauma of separation is very high.
- It has resulted into the concept of designer babies where actors have started using the method to get a child as per their own demands.
- The surrogate mothers in most of the cases are underpaid. The fertility clinics charge high amounts from the customers and give a very small percentage to the women carrying the baby.
- Women in most of the cases are not well-informed in advance regarding the terms and conditions of surrogacy.
- There is no provision for post delivery healthcare, which the women needs the most.
- Mostly women in the age bracket of 50-55 years (in the stage of menopause) are used as surrogate mothers, this can have adverse effects on their health.
- During the period of nine months of pregnancy, the surrogate mother has to be in constant observation of the fertility clinic, as a result of which she is not able to take care of her own children.
- The report highlighted that women from the areas which are in transformation of rural to urban facility are educated but unemployed. So they need money,hence the bargaining power for this business is very high.
Government Strategies to regulate Surrogacy
- Government of India for the first time came out with comprehensive guidelines in 2013 which talks about:
- Written consent of the whole family of the surrogate mother is required with full provision of pre and post delivery care and nutrition.
- Throughout the fertility period, a woman cannot give birth to more than five children including her own.
- The 2013 guidelines did not talks about the citizenship issue of the child and parent
- Single parents cannot opt for a surrogate child. One of the parent should be an Indian citizen.
- Good infrastructure with proper arrangement should be provided so that the women can meet her own children during the period of pregnancy.
- There is to be a control over the genetic material regarding the designer baby as they can cause health problems to the baby. Only chromosome treatment of the baby should be allowed.
Even after these regulations, due to high demand and easy availability of surrogate mothers, the market for surrogacy flourished while neglecting all the guidelines.
So the Government of India came out with the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill,2016.
The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill,2016.
- It talks about a total ban on foreigners, homosexual couples, people in ‘live-in’ relationships and individuals to go for a child born through surrogacy.
- According to its provisions, only childless straight Indian couples married for a minimum of five years are eligible to go for surrogacy.
- The couples will have to turn to close relatives for altruistic surrogacy (i.e. without charging money)
This step has been widely criticized by assisted reproductive clinics who argue that it will cause a huge damage to the medical tourism industry of the country.