Saturday, 25 October 2014

Why Surrogacy In India is Debated?


An Australian baby born to a surrogate Indian mother was abandoned in India. It has highlighted some tension in India as well as Australia. The news hit the headlines after the Australian parents abandoned the twin because they wanted just the one child and were unprepared for the birth of twins.

The Australian High Commission in India tried persuasion and confirmed the veracity of the reports, but could not help because surrogacy is a personal matter. Indian Surrogacy sector has always been under media target for multiplicity of reasons. The Australian couple’s decision to fly away without the child raked another controversy.

Such cases have made surrogacy a debatable issue in India. Sometimes, it is some surrogacy clinics, some doctors or the commissioning parents, who have often gathered flak for their wrong practices and decision. Surrogacy, if practiced through right means without shortchanging or cheating anyone, can be a boon for human beings to gift their reproductive capabilities. Women in 

India agree to become gestational surrogates with dual reasons, to earn money for supporting their families and to help the couples in completing their families.

It is often perceived as exploitation of women working in surrogacy industry. Reproduction is a gift and women offering help to someone to share the gift. IVF in India and IVF in Raipur has been an example of successful surrogacy assistance throughout the years. The fact cannot be denied that there is an urgent need to regularise the sector for transparent ART procedure. Tight laws and strong legislation would restore faith of both surrogate mothers and commissioning parents in the process. Recently, the Australian Federal Circuit Court Chief Judge John Pascoe has called for a national enquiry into international commercial surrogacy. 

Commercial surrogacy was made legal in India in the year 2002. Looking at the high success rate and the number of doctors righteously working to help the couples, the commercial surrogacy is both beneficial for surrogates and couples.

There is an increase in global infertility rate and couples want to have babies with their own genes. Legal landscape surrounding surrogacy in India is cultivated on child-protection perspective. It was the day in 2002 on which surrogacy was legalized in India, when legal authorities started striving to push the sector on legal tracks.

India is abode for thousands of surrogate mothers, who are bearing children for Indian as well as foreign childless couples. The sector has widened its horizon in years, adding new criterions to safeguard the rights of surrogate mothers in India, recipient couples and the children born through surrogacy.

Throughout the years many questions are raised about surrogacy in India. Be it the reputed news dailies, or channels, the debate continues over the surrogacy as unregularised sector. This sometimes becomes the reason for infertile couple to question the legitimacy of the process and think whether surrogacy is India would safeguard legal rights or not. 

The Indian Ministry of Home Affairs has continued reassessing the surrogacy laws to plug the loopholes and form robust guidelines.

Later, the original Assisted Reproductive Technology Billwas drafted in 2008 with an aim to regulate surrogacy in India. The bill defines the responsibilities and duties of a surrogate mother, those seeking her services and the Indian facilities that provide such services.

Again in 2010, the ART Bill was redrafted to provide sufficient protection for surrogate mothers. The decision was taken after the Planning Commission recommended substantive changes in the legislation and advised the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) against pushing the draft Bill till the process of consultations was satisfactorily concluded. 

If the bill is passed, the foreigners seeking a surrogate in India will have to provide documentary proof that they would be able to take the child back to their country. They must also appoint a local guardian who will be legally responsible for the surrogate till the child is handed over to its parents. The draft bill would outlaw surrogacy by a relative who is not from the same generation as the woman who intends to keep the baby.

Few days back, the Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC) formulated rules and regulations on surrogacy and formed a committee to monitor. Under the newly formed rules, MMC has the power to suspend the license of the doctor guilty of malpractice.

The concerns with regard to the unregulated industry, unethical practices, especially lack of protection of the surrogate women’s health and rights, sex selection, lack of employment opportunities, and other health and rights issues of children born through surrogacy arrangements, and issues related to their citizenship are being addressed, and the ministry has been making strides in regularizing surrogacy

The bills are formed with a view to protect and safeguard the rights and health of the women who undergo these ART procedures, surrogates, egg donors and of the children born through these techniques. 

Recently, the Ministry of Home Affairs formed new guidelines pertaining to surrogacy. The seven revised guidelines ensured protection of rights of surrogate, recipient parents and the child born through surrogacy. Through the guidelines, it was ensured that the couples seeking surrogacy assistance inIndia are not in any kind of dilemma about the process. The contract is signed between the surrogate and the recipient couple to ensure protection of rights. Therefore, the Indian ministry continues to revise and reassess the laws surrounding surrogacy consider the high surrogacy success rate.

Dr Neeraj Pahlajani

Obstetrician & IVF Specialist
(MS, DNB, FMAS, DRM - Germany)
MBBS - Lady Harding Medical College - New Delhi
MS - Obstetrics and Gynecology (PGI - Rohtak)
DNB - Obstetrics and Gynecology
FMAS - World Association of Laparoscopic Surgeons
DRM - Diploma in Reproductive Medicine (Germany)
Fellow in IVF & Embryology – (USA)
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Anupam Nagar, Near T.V. Tower, Raipur (Chhattisgarh) India
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