Live-in couples and widows should be allowed to avail surrogacy service in addition to legally married Indian couples, a parliamentary panel said on Thursday and pitched for providing “adequate and reasonable” monetary compensation to surrogate mothers.
The panel also spoke out against altruistic surrogacy, where a surrogate mother agrees to gestate a child for intended parents without being compensated monetarily in any way.
Expecting a woman to be altruistic enough to become a surrogate and endure all hardships of the surrogacy procedure in the pregnancy period and post-partum period is “tantamount to a form of exploitation”, it said.
It observed that altruistic surrogacy only by close relatives will always be because of “compulsion and coercion” and not because of altruism.
The committee also found “no point” in restricting NRIs, Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs), Overseas Citizen of India (OCIs) card holders from availing surrogacy services in India and recommended that while foreign nationals should be kept out of the ambit of the bill, PIOs, OCIs and NRIs should be permitted to avail the services in the country.
The cabinet had given its nod to introduction of the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016, in Parliament, seeking a bar on unmarried couples, single parents, live-in partners and homosexuals.
“Foreigners as well as NRIs and PIOs who hold OCI cards have been barred from opting for surrogacy,” external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj had told reporters after the approval of the bill by the Union cabinet in 2016.
“Given our sentiments and sensibility, the social status of a woman in our society is judged by her reproductive life and there is a lot of pressure on her for child-bearing,” it noted.
The committee observed that the decision to keep live-in partners out of the purview of the bill is indicative of the fact that the bill is not in consonance with the “present day modern social milieu that we live in and is too narrow in its understanding”.