News is out that the Indian Government is now planning to implement a monetary bond for foreigners wishing to take up surrogacy in India, whereby the couple have to deposit a sum of money towards monetary bond prior to taking up of surrogacy arrangement in India. The sum of money would be returned to the couple at the time of taking of custody of the children born through the surrogacy arrangement. This is one of amendments that is likely to be introduced into the Assisted Reproductive Technologies (Regulation) Bill, 2013.
The exact details of how the government plans to implement this monetary bond policy is unclear, although it seems certain that if such a bond is introduced, the couple would be required to deposit the monies for the bond in the name of the unborn child prior to issuance of the medical surrogacy visa. The monetary bond must be returned to the couple after the child is born and custody is taken by the couple. The money is to be a security deposit for the welfare of the child, in case the intended parents do not take custody of the child after the birth.
The Indian Government had found itself in the middle of huge controversy when an Australian Judge had provided information that an Australian Couple had abandoned a child born out of a surrogacy arrangement in India and the Australian Embassy officials had knowledge about the same. The boy child was said to have been given in adoption to another couple and later it was confirmed that money could have changed hands making out a case of child trafficing. Following this controversy, the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs refused to grant medical surrogacy visa for Australian Nationals who desired to take up surrogacy in India. I am not if this rule has been fully relaxed yet. The Government has been anxiously introducing safeguards to ensure that surrogacy in India is restricted to the safest extent possible. One of the measures taken by the Indian Government was to not grant medical surrogacy visa for single parents and homosexual couples.
Quantum of the Surrogacy Monetary Bond
This is the first time that a Country come out with a plan to introduce this sort of monetary bond policy for entering into a surrogacy arrangement. If the monetary bond must have a practical purpose, the cost of the monetary bond must be extremely steep as it intends to provide for the lifetime care, support and maintenance of a child that may be born though a surrogacy arrangement. If the sum is low, then the child cannot be afforded the care that is expected. It would be interesting to see how this amount is arrived at.
In my personal opinion, no sum of money can actually account for the loss of good parents to the child. The child is brought into the world only by the desire of the intended parents, and if the child is abandoned by them it really does not make any logical sense. It is would be highly ineffective to merely have a deposit of money in the name of an unborn child without means to ensure that the couple actually take the custody of the child.
Also if the bond amount is higher than the cost of surrogacy itself, the intended parents might not be able to accumulate funds for the bond and the surrogacy arrangement as well. Having a child and a family is a basic need for any species, not only human beings. Intended Parents from all over the world who take up surrogacy are not essentially rich, but come all the way to India as it is the only option in their hand given the monetary considerations. I am not sure how many couples would be able to accumulate the huge sum for the monetary bond and for the surrogacy arrangement.
Abandoning a child is an offence under Indian Penal Code
Abandoning of a child in India is already an offence under the Indian Penal Code under Section 317. You can read more about it here. The Indian Government has not initiated any criminal action against the Australian Couple who had abandoned the child. It is ridiculous that the Indian Government does not wish to take the abandonment done by the Australian Couple seriously, but is only trying to impose more restrictions on future surrogacy arrangements.
The Indian Government must bring in stricter laws making the abandonment of a child born through surrogacy a much serious offence and must take inter-country action for enforcing the laws rather than imposing only a monetary bond, which would hinder several couples to take up surrogacy in India.