Bioethics News

India may ban all commercial surrogacy

Surrogacy class / BBC 

The Indian government plans to impose a complete ban on commercial surrogacy and to permit it only for legally married Indian couples. Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill 2016 would ban unmarried couples, single parents, live-in partners and homosexuals from engaging surrogate mothers. Nothing but altruistic surrogacy would be permitted.

Only “close relatives” would be eligible to be surrogate mothers. A woman would only be able to do it once and she would have to be married and to have borne a child herself. The woman commissioning the child would be the legal mother, not the birth mother. A woman seeking a surrogate child would have to be between 23 and 50 years in age and her husband between 26 and 55 years.

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said that there was a real need for regulation now that India has more than 2,000 surrogacy clinics. The surrogacy industry has swollen into a US$1 billion business.

Whether the bill actually survives intense lobbying from the surrogacy industry is hard to say. It has already come under attack on Twitter for being homophobic and paternalistic and for denying childless couples the happiness of having a child of their own. The Times of India editorialised:

The government’s approach is patronising towards women – the latter should be able to choose if they want to be surrogate mothers even, or especially, if they are poor. It’s exploitation that government should be looking to curb, not freedom to choose. According to the proposed bill only altruistic surrogacy will be allowed, that too only for married Indian couples facing infertility issues and through a close relative as the surrogate mother.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.