The Cabinet today gave its approval for moving official amendments in a bill which aims at banning commercial surrogacy, allowing altruistic surrogacy to needy infertile couples and its effective regulation in the country.
The 'Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016' proposes to regulate surrogacy by establishing appropriate authorities at the central level and in states and Union Territories, an official statement said.
Once the bill is enacted by the Parliament, the National Surrogacy Board will be constituted and the states and UTs will have to constitute the State Surrogacy Board and State Appropriate Authorities within three months of the notification by the central government.
"Once in effect, the Act will regulate the surrogacy services in the country and will control the unethical practices in surrogacy, prevent commercialisation of surrogacy and will prohibit potential exploitation of surrogate mothers and children born through surrogacy," the statement said.
While commercial surrogacy will be prohibited including sale and purchase of human embryo and gametes, ethical surrogacy to the needy infertile couples will be allowed on fulfilment of certain conditions and for specific purposes, it said.
Infertile married couples who want to avail ethical surrogacy will be benefitted, the rights of surrogate mother and children born out of surrogacy will also be protected.
The bill shall apply to all the states, except for Jammu and Kashmir, the official statement said.
Noting that India is emerging as a "surrogacy hub" for couples from different countries, it said there have been reported incidents concerning unethical practices, exploitation of surrogate mothers, abandonment of children born out of surrogacy and rackets of intermediaries importing human embryos and gametes.
The 228th report of the Law Commission had recommended prohibiting commercial surrogacy and allowing ethical altruistic surrogacy by enacting a suitable legislation.
The 'Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016' was introduced in the Lok Sabha on November 21 in 2016 and was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare in January 2017.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee held various meetings with stakeholders, central government ministries/department, NGO's, medical professionals, lawyers, researchers, commissioning parents and surrogate mothers for holding discussions and to receive their suggestions.
The 102nd report of the departmental-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare on the Bill was tabled in Rajya Sabha and simultaneously in Lok Sabha on August 10, last year.
The panel had recommended there should be no discrimination against people of Indian-origin living abroad seeking to use surrogacy services in India.
There is "no point" in restricting Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) and Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) from using surrogacy services, the panel's report, tabled in Parliament recently, said.
While recommending that foreign nationals be kept out of the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016, it advocated an appropriate mechanism for a complete background check of NRIs, PIOs and OCIs intending to use the services of surrogates for bearing a child on their behalf.
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