Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Why Surrogacy Needs Regulation?



While there are activists to fight for the rights of surrogate mothers, no is nobody has raised voice for the newborns. Yes, there are couples who have abandoned their children born through surrogacy in India. One of the recent cases was reported when an Australian couple abandoned one of the twins born through surrogacy in India. In the absence of any legal safeguard, malpractices such as this keep happening, says experts. There are many issues besides sex selection and exploitation of the poor surrogate mothers. There are a number of factors emerging from every side to taint surrogacy process. While surrogacy is a process to help an infertile couple to have their own children, there are clinics, couples and middlemen engaged in illegal activities. This cycle will continue till the surrogacy sector is regularised.

In 2014, India recorded around 20,000 approx surrogacy centers. However, only 270 have been enlisted by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on the basis of infrastructure and trained manpower.  India is fast being recognised as an attractive option for commercial surrogacy centre, human rights activists maintain that while commercial surrogacy in itself is welcome where persons unable to have children are aided by willing surrogates to have their biological children, problem comes in due to the exploitative nature of the business and lack of regulation in the industry.

No fixed compensation structure, no laws that cater to the health and number of births that a surrogate can support and usually incomplete advertisements of the services by medical establishments work against the interest of the women involved in the case.

After regular attempts to regulate the surrogacy sector in India, an AssistedReproductive Technologies (Regulation) Bill, 2013—an attempt by India to regulate commercial surrogacy—is likely to be presented to the cabinet on Thursday before being introduced in Parliament.

After making necessary modifications in the earlier versions of the bill passed in 2008 and 2010, the cabinet approved it with the vetting from Law Ministry and Planning Commission.


-       The Bill addresses all issues pertaining to ethics in commercial surrogacy.
-       The Bill is only to help infertile couples and should act as a deterrent to commercial surrogacy.

The CII study estimated that nearly 10,000 foreign couples visit India for reproductive services and nearly 30% are either single or homosexual.
-        However, the Surrogacy Bill will disqualify homosexual couples, foreign single individuals and couples in live-in relationships from having children through surrogate mothers in India. The law also imposes age restrictions on surrogate mothers.
-        Homosexuals and foreign single individuals are barred from seeking surrogacy assistance in India.
-       Other than this, many restrictions imposed are not encouraging for business.

The recent Thailand controversy has brought the infertility clinics across the globe under scanner. Throughout the years, surrogacy in India remained unregulated but the day bill was cleared in cabinet it gave hopes to hundreds and hundreds people in India as well as overseas. It was a time between the years 2008 and 2013, when surrogacy practice in India was questioned under the heads of social and ethical issues.

Considering the fact that growing surrogacy tourism inIndia and increase in number of patients from overseas to commission surrogacy due to low cost surrogacy in India, the surrogacysector needed to be regularised. In India, the practice of commercial surrogacy started in the year 2002. Twelve years after the specialists gave birth to thousands of babies through this process, still the controversy about commercialisation denies dying. Surrogacy was commercialised for equal opportunity to surrogate mothers to support their families with the money they get. However, the tales about exploitation of women in the name of surrogacy have grabbed the headlines every now and then. 

Dr Neeraj Pahlajani

Obstetrician & IVF Specialist
(MS, DNB, FMAS, DRM - Germany)
MBBS - Lady Harding Medical College - New Delhi
MS - Obstetrics and Gynecology (PGI - Rohtak)
DNB - Obstetrics and Gynecology
FMAS - World Association of Laparoscopic Surgeons
DRM - Diploma in Reproductive Medicine (Germany)
Fellow in IVF & Embryology – (USA)
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