Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Indian parliament, passed the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill 2016, which aims to ban commercial surrogacy to protect women from exploitation.
Surrogacy, an arrangement where a woman agrees to carry a pregnancy for another person, is a legally accepted practice in many parts of the world for childless couples.
According to the bill, only childless couples, legally married for at least five years, are allowed to commission surrogacy, and that too, only from a woman who is a “close relative” of the couple.
The blood relative should be married and must have herself borne a child. The woman can become a surrogate only once in a lifetime. NRIs and foreigners cannot hire surrogate mothers in India.
Couples who do not have a large “close” family — or members who might be willing to be surrogates for them — cannot have a baby through surrogacy. The only available option for them would be adoption.
The bill makes the provision of surrogacy exclusively for Indian citizens and prohibits foreign nationals from applying for surrogacy in India.
Singles or those in a homosexual relationship cannot apply for surrogacy. The child, thus born, will be deemed to be the legal offspring of the intended couple.
It was on August 24, 2017, that the Union Cabinet approved the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill 2016. The bill was introduced in Lok Sabha in November 2016 and was later referred to a parliamentary standing committee on Health and Family Welfare in January 2017.