A Parliamentary panel on Thursday recommended replacing the word “altruistic” in a clause of the Surrogacy (Regulatory) Bill, 2016, with “compensated”. The members who tabled the recommendations in the Rajya Sabha said the practice helps surrogates build homes and educate their children.
While clearing the Bill in August 2016, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had said that couples who are “medically unfit to have children” can seek help from a close relative, which is called altruistic surrogacy. However, who qualifies as a close relative was not defined.
“Appropriate modifications be incorporated in the said clause and other relevant clauses of the Bill with a view to harmonise the Bill with the compensated surrogacy model,” reads the report.
It also recommended measures to ensure that the rights of a surrogate mother are well protected and that the surrogate mother has consented to it. Life insurance cover, right to abortion or medical termination of the surrogate pregnancy, financial support for the surrogate child and right to privacy are among the other recommendations.
The panel also held that the clause that specifies that a couple needs to be married for five years before opting for surrogacy was not ideal. In the report, the members have argued that most couples nowadays get married in their 30s and 40s.
In August 2016, the Union Cabinet had cleared a draft Bill on surrogacy, aiming to impose a “complete ban” on commercial surrogacy. It was introduced in the Lok Sabha in November, and the Rajya Sabha had referred it to the Parliamentary panel in January.
The proposed law aims to protect the rights of surrogate mothers and legalise the parentage of such children. The draft Bill also aims to regulate the process by which surrogacy is commissioned in India and make it “legal and transparent”.