This is certainly good news. The Union Women and Child Development Ministry, Government of India is in favour of surrogacy for Single and Gay Intended Parents apart from normal heterosexual couple. The Union Women and Child Development Ministry in its comments to the Health Ministry on the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, 2013 has stated that the definition of the word “couple” is narrow and must include everyone irrespective of the marital status.
Number of Surrogacies for Surrogate Mothers
The Union Women and Child Development Ministry has proposed that surrogate mothers should be allowed have four pregnancies, including their own children. The Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, 2013 had proposed that surrogate mothers should not have more than three pregnancies. The Ministry had also proposed that there should be a two-year gap between every childbirth. The Ministry in its comments stated that women above the age of 21 years can be surrogate mothers, with other criterions such as low Body Mass Index and other medical risks such as cardio-vascular diseases, thyroid problems being taken into consideration.
Compensation to the Surrogate Mother
The Union Women and Child Development Ministry is clearly in favour of monetary compensation for the surrogate mothers. The Union Women and Child Development Ministry had opined that a minimum compensation should be paid to the surrogate mother after the Embryo Transfer is complete, irrespective or success or failure of the procedure. Apart from this, the Union Women and Child Development Ministry also provided that the surrogate mother should be covered for contingencies such as medical risks.
Until now, only two ministries have commented on the Assisted Reproductive Technology Bill, which has been proposed by the Ministry of Health – Directorate General of Health Services and the Union Women and Child Development Ministry. The Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Home Affairs have not commented on the Assisted Reproductive Technology. The Ministry of Home Affairs was the agency of the Government that had introduced the restrictions for entry taking up surrogacy in India by introducing the new surrogacy visa.
Contradictory view from DGHS
The Directorate General of Health Services had commented on the Assisted Reproductive Technology Bill last month with a controversial view that surrogacy in India should be available only for people of Indian Origin and not for Foreigners. The view of the DGHS created much of a buzz in the online and offline space with debates questioning it stand. In its letter, the DGHS had proposed three recommendations on the Assisted Reproductive Technology Bill:
- Surrogacy in India should be allowed only for Indian citizens and people of Indian Origin
- Secondly, Surrogacy in India should be taken up only by married heterosexual couple and not single or gay parents
- Thirdly, a woman can be a surrogate only once in life time
The Union Women and Child Development Ministry has now provided a completely contradictory view from that proposed by the Directorate General of Health Services. We would be required to wait and see whether the Union Women and Child Development Ministry response to the Assisted Reproductive Technology Bill would be accepted and incorporated in the final draft of the bill.