The Draft Surrogacy Bill 2016 that was approved by the union cabinet on Wednesday did not have representation from the Women and Child Development ministry, the ministry that is in charge of both maternal and child welfare. The Group of Ministers which drafted the bill included Sushma Swaraj (external affairs), Harsimrat Kaur Badal (food processing), Nirmala Sitaraman (commerce), J.P. Nadda (health) and Ravishankar Prasad (law and justice). WCD minister Maneka Gandhi was not a part of the GOM.
Several members of the committee that helped draft the bill admitted they were surprised by the omission though WCD representatives tried to brush away the exclusion.
The bill which is close to the UK and Australian laws on surrogacy, aims to completely stop commercial surrogacy and to severely curtail scope of altruistic surrogacy.
The bill will be presented in parliament during the next session and is most likely to be referred to the standing committee.
Speaking to presspersons, Swaraj outlined salient points of the draft. These are:
♦ Only Indian couples can opt for surrogacy in India. It is not open to OCIs
♦ The couple should be legally married. It's not allowed for homosexual couples, couples in live-in relationships and single parents
♦ The couple should have been married for five years
♦ The couple should have a medical certificate to prove that they cannot have a child naturally
♦ The surrogate can loan her womb only once
♦ Those who have a natural or adopted child cannot choose surrogacy
♦ Parents are allowed to meet medical bills of surrogate mothers, and no other payments can be made
♦ Surrogacy clinics have to be registered
♦ There is a ten year jail term for abandoning the child
♦ Surrogate child will enjoy all rights of a natural born even in inheritance
♦ Clinics should keep record for 25 years
♦ Only a close relative of the couple can be a surrogate