The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (“Ministry”) has introduced the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill 2019 in the Lok Sabha on 15th July 2019.
The Bill was first introduced in the Lok Sabha in December 2018 but had lapsed. India has emerged as a surrogacy hub for couples from different countries over the past few years. Due to lack of legislation to regulate surrogacy, the practice of surrogacy has been misused by surrogacy clinics, which leads to rampant commercial surrogacy and unethical practices. Following this, the Ministry has introduced a bill to form a comprehensive legislation to govern and regulate Surrogacy in the country.
Key Highlights of the Bill:
- Appropriate authority: The central and state governments shall appoint one or more appropriate authorities within 90 days of the Bill becoming an Act. The functions of the appropriate authority include; (i) granting, suspending or cancelling registration of surrogacy clinics; (ii) enforcing standards for surrogacy clinics; (iii) investigating and acting against breach of the provisions of the Bill; (iv) recommending modifications to the rules and regulations.
- Registration of surrogacy clinics: Surrogacy clinics cannot undertake surrogacy related procedures unless they are registered by the appropriate authority. Clinics must apply for registration within a period of 60 days from the date of appointment of the appropriate authority.
- Parentage and abortion of surrogate child: A child born out of a surrogacy procedure will be deemed to be the biological child of the intending couple. An abortion of the surrogate child requires the written consent of the surrogate mother and the authorization of the appropriate authority. This authorization must be compliant with the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971. Further, the surrogate mother will have an option to withdraw from surrogacy before the embryo is implanted in her womb.
- Offences and penalties: The offences under the Bill include: (i) undertaking or advertising commercial surrogacy; (ii) exploiting the surrogate mother; (iii) abandoning, exploiting or disowning a surrogate child; (iv) selling or importing human embryo or gametes for surrogacy and (v) advertisement regarding commercial surrogacy. The penalty for such offences is imprisonment up to 10 years and a fine up to 10 lakh rupees. The Bill specifies a range of offences and penalties for other contraventions of the provisions of the Bill.
Source: Ministry of Health and Family Welfare