ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Naturally Unjust

The proposed surrogacy law should not be a hurried "look-good" response from the government.

Since surrogacy was first legalised in India in 2002 neither the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) guidelines, nor the Assisted Reproductive Technologies (Regulation) (ART) Bill which underwent many changes from 2010 to 2013 have been able to cover the highly complex medical, socio-economic, cultural and gender aspects that it encompasses. These complexities have only grown even as the “surrogacy industry” with nearly 3,000 ART clinics is estimated to have an annual turnover of Rs 900 crore. The first moves towards regulating the industry in 2008 ended with a legal impasse. This time it is a public interest litigation (PIL) and the Supreme Court’s demand for an answer from the centre that has led to the subject gaining renewed attention.

An affidavit filed by the centre (but not tendered to the Court for a response at the time of going to press) has set the cat among the pigeons: it says that the government is against commercial surrogacy and will only allow altruistic surrogacy for needy married Indian couples. If it goes ahead with this provision coupled with that in the ART Bill, 2014 not to allow foreigners to avail of surrogacy facilities in India, it will be the death knell for the “surrogacy industry.” It is very likely that the powerful and lucrative industry is not going to fold up quietly without a fight. Already, there is speculation that it will be driven underground and neighbouring countries will reap the “benefit.” That would also be unfair to the countless beneficiaries of this medical advance.

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