NEW DELHI: Accepting key recommendations from a parliamentary select committee, the Cabinet approved the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2020.
This bill allows a “willing woman” and not just a “close relative” to become a surrogate mother and proposing that widows and divorced women can also benefit from its provisions, besides infertile Indian couples.
The proposed insurance cover for a surrogate mother has also now been increased to 36 months from 16 months earlier.
The bill aims to regulate surrogacy while prohibiting commercial surrogacy and allowing altruistic ones, Cabinet minister Prakash Javadekar said after the meeting.
Women and child development (WCD) minister Smriti Irani added that only Indian couples, with both partners being of Indian origins, can opt for surrogacy in the country.
The 15 major changes suggested by the 23-member Rajya Sabha select committee, headed by Bhupendra Yadav, included omission of five-year wait period before opting for surrogacy, and allowing single women – either divorcee or widow – in the 35- to 45-year age group and Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) to avail surrogacy.
The previous bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on August 5, 2019, but was referred to the select committee by the Upper House after members raised concerns over clauses such as allowing only altruistic surrogacy with a near relative as a surrogate and not allowing single woman or with the definition of infertility in the proposed legislation.
The Rajya Sabha select committee that examined the bill argued that restricting the surrogate mother to a “close relative” potentially affects the availability of surrogate mothers.
“A willing woman shall act as a surrogate mother and be permitted to undergo surrogacy procedures as per the provisions of this Act,” the committee said in its report.
Advocating for the need to allow single woman, it said : “There are conditions under which a single person genuinely needs to avail surrogacy as an option to have a child.
One such situation is a young aged widow, who is otherwise capable but cannot carry a child because of fear of social stigma attached to pregnancy of widows in our society.”
The Surrogacy Regulation Bill, 2020 – which proposes to regulate surrogacy by setting up a National Surrogacy Board and State Surrogacy Boards along with appropriate authorities in the states and Union Territories – is likely to be tabled in the second half of the budget session beginning next month.