Vol. XLIII No. 20 May 19, 2019
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A Much Delayed Bill on Surrogacy

The All India Democratic Women’s Association has issued the following statement on August 26

A much delayed Bill to address the issues surrounding surrogacy has been reportedly cleared in a cabinet meeting of the present NDA government on August 24, 2016.  There has been a long standing demand from many organisations and groups for a separate law to ensure that women, especially from the poorer sections are not exploited by the increasing pulls and pressures of this multi-million dollar medical industry. AIDWA concurs with the ban on commercial surrogacy introduced in the Bill, as it will contribute to contain and regulate this proliferating business. We are opposed to commercial surrogacy not because we think it belongs to an ' alien' culture, but because we are of the view that it is a form of exploitation of poor women who have neither any economic option nor medical or legal protection.
 
However, we are concerned with its underlying conservatism, which excludes single parents, live-in partners, same sex couples, etc from altruistic surrogacy.  It displays a regressive mindset that makes negative value judgements about certain categories of citizens, thereby violating their fundamental constitutional right to be treated equally before the law.  The same conservatism is expressed in confining 'altruistic' surrogacy to the same caste and community. It is also not clear why couples who already have a child have been excluded.
 
Moreover, the Bill does not pay adequate attention to the protection of the surrogate mother even in ‘altruistic’ surrogacy. Providing appropriate safeguards, insuring her against long term consequences on her health and well being, etc should form an intrinsic part of the Bill.
 
If it has to succeed in its objective, the law will require an effective implementing and monitoring component. These sections will have to be carefully drafted taking into consideration the stiff resistance from commercial interests that have already been expressed.  To achieve any degree of success, the NDA government would do well to undertake a larger consultation which includes women’s organisations that have been active on the ground, before placing and passing this Bill in parliament.