Monday, 30th October 2017

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Surrogacy for Indians only

Govt tells SC it plans to ban embryo import

By OUR LEGAL CORRESPONDENT
  • Published 29.10.15
  •  

New Delhi, Oct. 28: The Centre today told the Supreme Court it proposes to ban the import of human embryos for commercial surrogacy and would permit "only altruistic surrogacy to... infertile married Indian couples".

This means foreign couples would, from now on, not be allowed to commission children through poor surrogate Indian mothers. The move would bring the curtains down on what is considered a $445 million annual business in the country.

A surrogate mother is a woman who carries and gives birth to a baby for "commissioning parents" and hands them the newborn for money after surrendering all parental rights. Such a transaction is called a "commercial surrogacy agreement".

The Centre also told the court that the issue of parentage in surrogacy - usually mired in legal complications on inheritance and other rights - would be dealt with in the draft "The Assisted Reproductive Techniques (Regulation) Bill, 2014". The bill is at the consultation stage among various stakeholders, including the Centre.

Solicitor-general Ranjit Kumar told a bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and N.V. Ramana that a notification prohibiting the import of human embryos for commercial surrogacy had been issued on Monday, following the apex court's October 14 suggestion.

The top court had asked the Centre to consider banning such import and restricting it to medical research purposes while hearing a PIL filed by an advocate, Jayashree Wad, seeking a ban on commercial surrogacy.

This afternoon, in an affidavit filed in the apex court, the health ministry said: "Respondents (Centre) do not support the commercial surrogacy. Only altruistic surrogacy to the needy infertile married Indian couples will be provided after their needs are asserted and found to be genuine by the 'State appropriate authority'....

"It is respectfully submitted that the adequate provisions will be made in the enactment to prohibit and penalise commercial surrogacy services.

"The department of health and research... is of the view that the surrogacy... may be limited to infertile Indian married couples only and not to the foreigners."

The draft bill has been uploaded on the health ministry website to elicit suggestions from stakeholders, the government said.

According to the Centre's affidavit, surrogate mothers who give birth were generally considered the "legitimate" mothers. But in altruistic surrogacy arrangements, the surrogate mother agreed to give up her parental rights so that the "commissioning couple" could become the baby's legal guardian.

"Government of India has decided that commercial surrogacy will not be supported in the Assisted Reproductive Techniques (Regulation) Bill, 2014," the affidavit said.