India has issued new rules barring foreign gay couples and single people from using surrogate mothers to become parents in the proposed Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill 2013 that aims to regulate surrogacy in India. The decision has drawn sharp criticism from gay rights advocates and fertility clinics in Raipur.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), according to the guidelines of July 9, 2012, restricted surrogacy to foreign nationals; i.e. a man and a woman married for at least two years would be required to take a medical visa for surrogacy in India. As of now, even though surrogacy is an administrative concern and in the domain of the MoHFW, it has been decided that till the enactment of a law on the ART Bill, 2013, the guidelines issued by the MHA will prevail till then. Hence, foreign single parent surrogacy is barren.
It was in 2012, when the home ministry debarred gay couples and single foreigners from having an Indian surrogate bear their child as only a foreign “man and woman” married at least two years will be granted visas.
In March 2014, departments and ministries of the Government of India reviewed the drafted Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, 2013 (ART Bill).
After revision, the decision to restrict surrogacy in India to “infertile Indian married couples” only, was taken with a belief that it would prevent exploitation of Indian women who may be pushed to take the risk of surrogacy in the face of financial hardships.
This decision came after extensive public debate across the country involving all stake holders about the unregulated surrogacy sector in India. According to the guidelines of 2005, there was no legal bar for the use of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) by a single or an unmarried woman, and the child born would have legal rights on the woman or man concerned.
Thereafter, the draft ART Bills of 2008, 2010 and 2013, stated to be revised based on the recommendations of the Ministry of Law and Justice, have consistently proposed that ART in India.
The draft Bill 2013, an exhaustive document containing 100 sections addressing various issues relating to ART. The details are kept ‘secret’.
Restricting surrogacy to infertile Indian married couples only, and debarring all foreigners other than OCIs, PIOs and NRI married couples, is a turnaround in the thought process. The suggestion barring foreigners from commissioning surrogacy in India is stated to be subject to there being no conflict with other Indian laws applicable to foreigners, such as those for adoption. Many singles parents visit every year to Pahlajani IVF Clinic to undergo IVF in Raipur.
The medical technology, advancement of science permitting free export of frozen embryos and other scientific methods have offered hopes to childless people. But attempts to shut out surrogacy for foreign nationalsand single persons, who have tied their hopes with India doctors and even to seek IVF in Raipur, may not be the ideal way to stamp out the hopes of persons wishing to be a parent.
Dr Neeraj Pahlajani
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