7th May 2017 09:05:PM Editorials
Eastern Sentinel Arunachal News

Actor Tushar Kapoor and Karan Johar made headlines after they became parents via surrogacy but they might be the last to have benefited from this technological advancement.

Just last year, the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016 was introduced in Lok Sabha in November. While the bill got the nod from the cabinet, it hasn’t been passed as yet. Proposed by Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj, the bill prohibits single parents, homosexuals, live-in couples from becoming commissioning parents. 

The cabinet last year approved the introduction of a bill that seeks to ban commercial surrogacy—a practice known as ‘rent a womb’—and allow only infertile couples to bear a child using a surrogate mother.

India has emerged as a surrogacy hub with reports of unethical practices. In 2002, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) released guidelines which made commercial surrogacy legal in India, but without legislative backing. This led to a surrogacy industry. Infertility clinics mushroomed; surrogate mothers were paid anywhere between Rs.70,000 and Rs.3 lakh per pregnancy; everyone, from foreign couples to homosexuals, were eligible for a surrogate baby.

According to a 2012 study by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), the size of India’s surrogate motherhood industry was $2 billion a year.

If enacted, the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill 2016 will allow only Indian citizens to have a surrogate child in India. Non-resident Indians or People of Indian Origin card-holders will not be allowed to take recourse to a surrogate mother in India. Live-in couples, single parents and homosexuals will also be barred.

As expected, this has sparked a huge debate as it comes across as a tad regressive in an evolving, modern society. There is need for concrete steps to regulate the sector and protect the rights of the surrogates, but this bill is a step in the other extreme direction. A total ban on commercial surrogacy will only push the industry underground and render surrogate mothers even more vulnerable.

The debate on the bill also centred around the decision to not let even single people, both men and women, opt for surrogacy, leaving adoption as their only option. It is largely being seen as an attempt to reinforce traditional ideas of family. The fact is that society is changing and marriage in present times for many is a choice rather than a compulsion. Also the bill will virtually ban the only way some infertile couple can become parents.

The government should be open to consultation with all the stakeholders — healthcare industry, medical and scientific community, academicians from law and ethics branches and representatives of sexual minorities — before taking the final call.

There is an urgent need to be more accommodating of the needs of individuals wanting to become parents. We also need to stop stereotyping and concluding who can be a good parent and who cannot – based on their sexual orientation or relationship status.


Kenter Joya Riba

(Managing Editor)
      She is a graduate in Science with post graduation in Sociology from University of Pune. She has been in the media industry for nearly a decade. Before turning to print business, she has been associated with radio and television.
Email: kenterjoyaz@easternsentinel.in / editoreasternsentinel@gmail.com
Phone: 0360-2212313

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