India Considers Legal Restrictions on Surrogacy
The Indian government has unveiled a draft law which would ban certain forms of surrogacy. If approved by parliament, the law will ban commercial surrogacy. It will also ban people who do not hold an Indian passport, as well as Indian single parents and homosexual couples, from having children through surrogacy.
Infertile couples would still be allowed to have a baby using a surrogate, but she would have to be related to them.
India is regarded as the “surrogacy hub” of the world, where infertile couples, including many from overseas, pay local women to carry their babies through to birth.
The industry is estimated to be worth more than €2 billion a year and is expected to lobby aggressively against the proposed law.
Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj told reporters that under the proposed law, only local infertile couples, married for at least five years, would be able to seek a surrogate, who must be a close relative. “This is a comprehensive bill to completely ban commercial surrogacy,” she said.
India has one-third of the world's poorest people. Critics argue that poverty is a major factor driving women to become surrogate mothers in exchange for money.
The Catholic Church in India is opposed to the proposed legislation, since it regards all surrogacy, including so-called altruistic surrogacy, permitted under the legislation, as unacceptable.
“No matter how altruistic this proposed surrogacy bill may appear, it would not be acceptable to the Catholic Church, as it does not uphold the respect and dignity of the human embryo,” said Auxiliary Bishop Savio Fernandes of Mumbai, citing the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s instruction Donum Vitae.
“A better option to surrogacy would be to adopt a child," Bishop Fernandes added. "In India, there are so many children whose parents have abandoned them, often due to poverty or because it is a girl-child. These children could be given the love, dignity and respect that is denied to them due to no fault of their own, through adoption.”
BBC. August 25. CWN. August 31.