The Union Cabinet on Wednesday cleared a draft bill on surrogacy that aims to secure the rights of surrogate mothers. The bill is now scheduled to be introduced in Parliament during the winter session, according to sources.
The Health Ministry proposed the draft Surrogacy Bill 2016, which would regulate commissioning of surrogacy in India in a standard and secure manner. The prime features of the bill include legalising surrogacy, setting up a board to regulate and inspect surrogacy clinics on a regular basis and banning commercial surrogacy.
Reports state that foreigners will no longer be able to participate in the surrogacy process in India since the Ministry of External Affairs raised concerns associated with commercial surrogacy relating to citizenship, visa, passport issues and also issues concerning abandoning the child.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday said that altruistic surrogacy will only be permitted for Indian citizens. NRI or OCI holders will not be allowed to undertake the process. Swaraj also added that the bill will help prohibit commercial surrogacy and allow ethical surrogacy to needy infertile couples.
Surrogacy will not be permitted for commercial purpose and can only be conducted after proven infertility. However, the process is allowed for altruistic purposes where no expenses will be charged for carrying the child and only medical expenses will be paid. It will be strictly prohibited to use the process for selling children.
A new board will be set up to ensure the regulation and proper execution of the bill and its rules when passed by Parliament. At the same time, no new surrogacy clinics will be allowed to carry out the process.
The draft bill was already cleared by the Group of Ministers (GoM), which included Health Ministers JP Nadda, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal.
The government had recently announced in Parliament that certain changes were being made in the draft Surrogacy Bill to make the process of surrogacy legal and transparent.