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Surrogacy In India

Surrogacy is a procedure through which a third party mother bears and gives birth to the child of other parents. This can be due to multiple medical reasons that prevent the mother from giving birth or bearing children.

According to the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill of 2019, surrogacy is defined as:
A practice whereby one woman bears and gives birth to a child for an intending couple with the intention of handing over such child to the intending couple after the birth.

The Surrogacy (regulation) bill, 2019 was put forth in order to provide for a national framework, i.e. to constitute National Surrogacy Boards, State surrogacy Boards and appointment of necessary authorities for the regulation of the process and practice of surrogacy and matters related to it in India. Under this Bill, Only Altruistic surrogacy is allowed, that is there can be no commercial gain for the surrogate mother. Only the costs incidental to the Surrogacy and pregnancy shall be covered by the intending parents.

Additionally, only married Indian couples are allowed to seek surrogacy, and that too only under certain conditions such as proven Infertility. It goes without saying, but is said in this bill that the Surrogacy shall be for the purpose of giving a married couple a child, and not for the purposes of exploitation.

The bill further lays down the essentials for the conduction of surrogacy.
  1. The intended couple need to issue a certificate of Essentiality, as issued by an appropriate authority.
    The conditions for the issuing are:
    1. A certificate of prover infertility of either or both the members of the intending couple from a District Medical Board.
    2. An order of parentage and custody of child passed by a magistrate's court (first class or above)
    3. Insurance Coverage for the Surrogate Mother for a period of 16 Months covering post-delivery complications too.

The intending couple must also issue a Certificate of Eligibility, which requires:
  1. The Couple to be Indian Citiznes, and married for atleast 5 years
  2. Between 23 and 50 years old females and between 26 and 55 year old males.
  3. They do not have a surviving child (biological, adopted or surrogate). This, however, excludes a child who is mentally or physically challenged, or suffers from a life threatening or fatal illness or disorder.
  4. Other conditions that may be specified by regulations.

For a woman to be a surrogate mother, too, there are specific eligibility criteria, which are as follows:
  1. She should be a close relative of the Intending couple
  2. Be an ever-married woman with child of her own
  3. Shall be between 25 and 35 years old
  4. She has not been a surrogate mother previously (A woman can be a surrogate only once under this bill)
  5. She shall possess a certificate of Medical and Psychological fitness for the surrogacy.

In addition to the aforementioned, the bill also says that the surrogate mother may not provide her own gametes for the surrogacy.
The bill also stated a few offences that protect the parties involved and also the morality and ethics of surrogacy. They are:
  1. Undertaking or advertising commercial surrogacy,
  2. Exploiting the surrogate mother,
  3. Abandoning, disowning or exploitation of surrogate child,
  4. Selling or importing human embryo or gametes for surrogacy.
A minimum penalty of 5 years of imprisonment and a fine upto Rs. 10 Lakh is prescribed for these offences.

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