The Surrogacy Bill, 2016 has been in making for a decade now. It was drafted in a number of ways but it is only now that the draft has been finally tabled and guess what? This one probably is the worst of the lot.
Surrogacy Bill, 2016
Flaws and unjust bans is what sums up the cabinet approved Surrogacy Bill, 2016 which will be presented in Parliament for approval in the next session.
Instead of understanding and addressing the issues which need to be regulated, the newly tabled Bill seeks to impose bans which will kill the fertility treatment.
For the longest of times surrogacy industry has flourished in India but from what it looks, the bill is just going to end it all.
The Bill allows ‘altruistic surrogacy’ for a limited section of society. Only childless, heterosexual Indian couples who have been married for five years and are living in India can now avail of fertility treatment. And if they need to find a surrogate to carry the baby, they have to seek out a relative who will do it out of altruism.
With this sweeping ban, the Bill negates the rights of parenthood to single persons, divorcees, widowed persons, same sex couples, live-in relationship partners and others who come outside the patriarchal norm.
Questions That Need to be Addressed
What about the rights of the above mentioned sections of the society? And what if one cannot find a suitable person? And these bans have been taken to prevent the women in the industry from exploitation? Ever heard that women are exploited and forced into doing something by their own families the most than anyone else?
Do you think a sister-in-law have much say when she is approached to be a surrogate mother? Even it would be against her wishes, she’ll be forced to go ahead with it.
And what about the women who were the sole bread earning member of the family depending on the industry for 2 square meals a day?
If the foetus is discovered to have a problem, what happens if the surrogate mother decides she does not want an abortion for religious or emotional reasons? Will the parents, who are compelled by law to ‘not abandon the child, born out of a surrogacy procedure, under any circumstances’, find themselves capable of taking care of the child?
What if the surrogacy results in a girl child and the adoptive parents want an abortion? Will, given the circumstances in India, the surrogate mother have a choice?
Oh, and here’s the reason why live-in and homosexual couples cannot opt for surrogacy. “We don’t recognise homosexuality and live-in relationships. It is against our ethos.”
Whose ethos and what are these ethos that we are talking about? Because if the ‘we’ in the statement refers to the public opinion, ‘we’ do recognise it.
As for those who fit within the Indian government’s carefully defined outline, you can’t opt for altruistic surrogacy if you have a biological or adopted child, unless your ‘child is mentally or physically challenged or suffers from a life-threatening disorder or fatal illness’.
So, basically the bill says ’We’ll decide if you can have a child; otherwise, of course, you are free to adopt.’?
And some might say that adoption is a solution? There are thousands of children who might need a home, but isn’t adoption supposed to be a personal choice?
And why is it that the bill just talks about imposing bans and not regulation of the industry?
Why does the bill blatantly ignore the ‘commercial’ surrogate mothers and the reason why they rent out their womb? I mean is the bill really aimed at saving women from the exploitation?
The bill is somehow effecting everyone but the affected. Just bans, bans and bans. Where’s the improvement or betterment of the people?
Seeing the bill in light of these questions, what can be inferred is only those with a proper understanding of the entire process can bring in legislation which is pertinent, meaningful and seeks to nurture rather than kill.
And isn’t that the only thing what we demand of such a legislation?
If the bill gets approved in the Parliament, a step aimed at saving a few will definitely be unjust for a larger part of the population in the country!
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Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.