Doctors’ fraternity welcomed the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare’s suggestion for reforms related to the surrogacy bill.
On Thursday, the committee noted several discrepancies in the draft of the Surrogacy Bill 2016 and suggested amendments in Rajya Sabha. Among the several suggestions given by the committee includes allowing widows, live-in partners, same-sex couples and single parents to benefit from surrogacy.
“The recommendations in the surrogacy bill are really positive and will be greatly helpful to the couples seeking surrogacy and will protect the interests of the surrogates,” said Dr Rishma Dhillon Pai, president of Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India (FOGSI).
She said if government and private sector experts work together, excellent results can be achieved. “Many of us have put in several hours of hard work, studied the bill, sat with lawyers, attended meetings, gone to the parliamentary committee meeting and finally seen the results. I’m feeling satisfied that all the efforts were worth it. A big thank you to all who worked selflessly for this surrogacy bill,” Dr Pai added.
The committee also noted that commercial surrogacy is an economic opportunity available to a surrogate mother and should not be looked down upon or dismissed in a paternalistic manner.
The 88 page report was tabled by the committee at Rajya Sabha after it held extensive interactions with representatives of associations/organisations/councils/institutes as well as renowned experts and professionals from the assisted reproductive industry and the benefactors of the same.
These included representatives from Ministry of Women and Child Development; Ministry of Home Affairs; Ministry of External Affairs; National Commission of Women; Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India (FOGSI) and Indian Society of Third Party Assisted Reproduction (INSTAR).
“The committee’s recommendations are very liberal and forward thinking. They have recommended allowing surrogacy for Indian couples in live-in relationship, divorced women, and widows. The report favoured allowing Non-Residential Indians(NRI), person of Indian origin and overseas citizen of India to go for surrogacy but hasn’t allowed the foreigners,” said Dr Nandita Palshetkar, Chairperson of Maharashtra Chapter of Indian Society for Assisted Reproduction (ISAR).
The committee has also recommended reducing the infertility period from five years to one year for opting surrogacy. It has however, suggested that a woman can become surrogate only once and the person opting for surrogacy should not have any living child.
It has also recommended life insurance for the surrogate mother and the child and medical insurance for six years for the surrogate mother and medical insurance for life for the child.
The committee has also suggested to allow an unrelated surrogate and capped the age of a surrogate mother between 25 to 35 years.