After three consecutive days of debate on the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019, the Rajya Sabha on Thursday, has referred the Bill to a Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha. The Bill which was taken up for discussion in the Upper House on Tuesday, but had to be deferred on Wednesday after several Opposition MPs objected to several provisions of the bill. The bill which seeks a ban on commercial surrogacy was passed by the Lok Sabha in the monsoon session on 5 August 2019.
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Objections to Surrogacy Bill
Earlier on Wednesday, the bill had garnered support by most members cutting across party lines, as per PTI. But many members had reportedly sought modifications in provisions such as time frame for abortion, time limit of age and prior informed consent. Apart from this, some members provisions for allowances and insurance along with maternity leave for the surrogate mother, besides relaxation in numbers of surrogacy, according to PTI.
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What is the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill?
The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019 was introduced by Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Dr. Harsh Vardhan in the Lok Sabha. The Bill prohibits commercial surrogacy allowing only altruistic surrogacy (surrogacy which involves no monetary compensation), as explained PRS. The Bill defines also defines surrogacy in terms of the intending couple and the woman gives birth - with the intention to hand over the child after birth.
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Here are some of the salient features of the Bill:
- The Bill prohibits commercial surrogacy and allows no monetary compensation to the surrogate mother other than the medical expenses and insurance coverage during the pregnancy.
- Furthermore, the Bill states that surrogacy is permitted when it is: (i) for intending couples who suffer from proven infertility; (ii) altruistic; (iii) not for commercial purposes; (iv) not for producing children for sale, prostitution or other forms of exploitation; and (v) for any condition or disease specified through regulations.
- Moreover the intending couple should have a ‘certificate of essentiality’ fulfilling the following conditions: (i) the couple being Indian citizens and married for at least five years; (ii) between 23 to 50 years old (wife) and 26 to 55 years old (husband); (iii) they do not have any surviving child (biological, adopted or surrogate) and (iv) other conditions that may be specified by regulations.
- The surrogate mother too has to be: (i) a close relative of the intending couple; (ii) a married woman having a child of her own; (iii) 25 to 35 years old; (iv) a surrogate only once in her lifetime; and (v) possess a certificate of medical and psychological fitness for surrogacy.
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