In past decade, India had developed a new industry. The Infertility tourism industry. Multiple features covered unskilled, oppressed women acting as surrogates for foreign couples.. Some showed the blatant and deplorable commercialisation of motherhood while others showed new found financial stability for women who had nothing to give but their wombs. In a tussle that began in 2014, the new surrogacy bill which was touted to help in regulating this industry has stagnated the nation’s growth.
To start at the very beginning, surrogacy in the simplest terms means “the process of giving birth to a child that is not biologically yours”. Surrogacy can be broadly classified into two categories: Altruistic (no financial gain with a loved one being the surrogate) and Commercial (a woman is hired to carry the embryo to term). Surrogacy in India has been a grey zone with “guidelines” lacking clear cut laws. The hub for commercial surrogacy in India is Anand, where couples from across the world flocked to find women who could fulfil their heart’s fondest desire. While Anand became a prototype, several such facilities cropped up across India which did more harm than good. This issue has always raised extreme responses where some spoke against it looking at the plight of women whereas others put forward the concept of financial independence and freedom of choice.
On Wednesday, the ART bill cleared by the Cabinet puts into question the very ideology on which our country runs today. The quick highlights about the bill:
- Commercial surrogacy is banned. Only altruistic surrogacy is permitted with the surrogate being a close family member. Only Indian married couples(married for atleast 5 years) in a select age group can seek out surrogacy after repeated failure of artificial reproductive techniques.
- It aims to prevent exploitation of tribal and rural women.
- Couples with biological or adopted children are prohibited from using surrogacy.
- Foreigners, non resident Indians, people of Indian origin, single parents, live-in partners and homosexuals cannot avail surrogacy.
- It includes provisions to help financially weak surrogates with government aid.
- The said couple can only pay for the medical expenses of the surrogate and not for her services.
- Penalties on parents refusing to accept children born with disabilities.
- All clinics must be registered under the act and any violation could lead to heavy fees and imprisonment.
The need of the hour were laws that regulated surrogacy. As always we managed to circumvent the issue at hand and create mass dissatisfaction. The bill clearly highlights all that is wrong with our society today and in many ways endorses it. This bill,if passed setbacks India and completely stagnates the progress we’ve been boasting of. The various provisions show the kind of narrow mindedness our bureaucracy still demonstrates. All we can do now is wait and watch the progression of the bill in the winter session of the parliament.
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