‘What started as need, has now turned into hobby’: Swaraj on commercial surrogacy

New Delhi, Aug 24 : Hours after the Union Cabinet gave its approval for the introduction of Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016, aimed at prohibiting commercial surrogacy and allowing ethical surrogacy to needy infertile couples, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday said single parents, homosexual couples and live-in relationship couples will not be allowed altruistic surrogacy.

Addressing the media here, Swaraj said that the bill was introduced as India had emerged as a surrogacy hub for couples, adding incidents were reported on unethical practices.

Altruistic, as opposed to commercial surrogacy, is where a surrogate is given no financial gain for carrying a child, only medical costs, travel, time off work are covered by the intended parents.

"If you have a biological child or an adopted child then an altruistic surrogacy won't be allowed," she said.

"Altruistic surrogacy will only be allowed for Indian citizens, not Non Resident Indians or Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card holders," she added.

Slamming the practice of commercial surrogacy, Swaraj said, "What started as a need has now turned into a hobby." In an apparent attack to celebrities, the Minister said, "Big celebrities who not only have one but two children, a son and a daughter, even then they went ahead with surrogacy." She said the National Surrogacy Board at the central level and State Surrogacy Boards in states and union territories will be formed to check the practice.

The Bill will be introduced in the winter session of the Parliament. According to the Health Ministry proposal, the Bill will ensure regulating and commissioning of surrogacy in the country in a proper manner.

A Group of Ministers (GoM) was constituted at the behest of the Prime Minister's Office. Health Minister J.P. Nadda, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Food Processing Industries Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal were part of the GoM.

The government had recently admitted that there has been spate of cases relating to pregnancies through surrogacy, including in rural and tribal areas, leading to possible exploitation of women and a proper statutory mechanism to control commissioning of surrogacy was needed.

Commercial surrogacy is banned in most developed countries, including Australia, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Sweden, New Zealand and Japan.

The Bill was to be taken up by the Union Cabinet on April 27, but it was dropped from the agenda at the last moment.

Source: ANI