Boon for surrogacy: Experts hail rule change as promising initiative

Centre amended the surrogacy rules allowing married couples to use donor gametes

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To become surrogate parents is a lot easier now! The government on Wednesday amended the surrogacy rules allowing married couples to use one of the gametes of a donor, in case of a medical condition. The change comes after the apex court questioned the Centre on why a decision is not being taken on the matter.

The notification that came into practise on Wednesday states “if certified by the District Medical Board that either husband or wife constituting the intending couple suffers from a medical condition necessitating use of donor gamete, then surrogacy using donor gamete is allowed to the condition that the child to be born must have at least one gamete from the intending couple.”

Experts welcomed the new rules, which will exponentially increase the chances of successful surrogacy. Dr Prachi Benara, senior consultant, Birla Fertility & IVF, Gurugram says, “It is a welcome notification and is a very good news to a lot of couples who have been waiting for the rules to change to experience parenthood.”

Referring to the 2022 surrogacy law requiring couples undergoing surrogacy to have both gametes from the intending couple, the Supreme Court in December 2023 had said that the very purpose of surrogacy would get defeated by such rules. The apex court had also permitted more than two dozen petitioners to use the donor eggs to become mothers through surrogacy.

“The unfortunate reality is that the couples opt for surrogacy after exhausting all options. By the time they decided, they are in their late 30s or early 40s and their eggs become so weak that in a lot of cases it becomes difficult to complete the process even through surrogacy,” said Dr Benara.

Doron Mamet Meged, founder Tammuz Family, an international surrogacy agency agrees, “Surrogacy often serves as a final recourse for couples grappling with infertility, a journey that can span years before the realisation that surrogacy is the best option.” “The decline in egg quality as women age is a biological reality. The government’s change to the surrogacy law allowing use of egg or sperm donors marks a promising initial effort to address inherent flaws in existing legislations.”

Meged added that before the change, India was the sole country permitting surrogacy but mandated that both parents must be genetically linked to the embryos. “The removal of the donor ban was a necessary step forward.”

The new rule, however, is not applicable for widowed or divorced women. “Single woman (widow or divorcee) undergoing surrogacy must use self eggs and donor sperms to avail surrogacy procedure,” reads the notification. Responding to the exclusion, Meged adds, “The current law still prohibits many other prospective parents from fulfilling their dreams of parenthood. These intended parents are compelled to seek surrogacy options abroad.”

Nonetheless, experts believe that the change will bring happiness to a lot of distressed couples. “I have seen so many couples who waited for several years for the rules to change but gave up after a point. Now the chances of successful surrogacy will go up to 70-75 percent,” adds Dr Benara. 

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