Foreign national couples may no longer be able to choose India as their destination to bring them the joy of parenthood. The government, in its newly-drafted Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) (Regulation) Bill, 2014, has proposed to bar foreigners from commissioning surrogacy in India.
Instead, the government has proposed allowing surrogacy only to couples who live together legally as per the Indian Consititution — Overseas Citizens of India (OCI), People of Indian origin (PIO), Non-Resident Indian’s (NRIs) and a foreigner married to an Indian citizen.
Contrary to the recommendation of the Women and Child Development (WCD) ministry, which had earlier proposed the health ministry to widen the definition of “couples by allowing surrogacy to everyone who wants to avail ARTs and surrogacy, irrespective of marriage”, the new draft remains quiet on live-in relationships, unmarried couples and single parents.
According to the draft, being put up for suggestions and comments by the Department of Health Research under the Union health ministry, OCIs, PIOs and foreigner married to an Indian citizen, commissioning surrogacy in India shall be married and the marriage should have sustained at least for two years.
They will have to submit a certificate conveying that the woman is unable to conceive their own child and the certificate shall be attested by the appropriate government authority of that country.
Those seeking surrogacy will also have to appoint a local guardian who shall be legally responsible for taking care of the surrogate during and after the pregnancy etc.
As per the draft if OCI, PIO and a foreigner married to an Indian citizen seeks sperm or egg donation, or surrogacy in India, and a child or children are born as a consequence, the child or children, even though born in India, shall not be an Indian citizen but shall be entitled to Overseas Citizenship of India under Section 7A of the Citizenship Act, 1955.
The draft also proposed that only Indian citizens shall have a right to act as a surrogate, and no assisted reproductive technology bank or assisted reproductive technology clinic shall receive or send an Indian woman for surrogacy abroad. The draft also states that no ART procedure shall be performed on a man and a woman below the age of 23 years and above the age of fifty years in case of women and 55 years in case of men.
According to the new draft, surrogate mother shall be an ever married Indian woman with minimum 23 years of age and shall have at least one live child of her own with minimum age of three years. “No woman shall act as a surrogate for more than one successful live birth in her life and with not less than two years interval between two deliveries. The surrogate mother shall be subjected to maximum three cycles of medications while she is acting as surrogate mother,”says the draft copy.
In the event that the man intending to act as sperm donor is married, the consent of his spouse shall be required before he may act as sperm donor, it adds.
The draft makes it mandatory for all those commissioning couple including OCI,PIO, NRIs and foreigner married to an Indian citizen who have availed of the services of a surrogate to accept the custody of the child or children irrespective of any abnormality that the child or children may have. “Commissioning couple shall submit a certificate indicating that the child/children born in India through surrogacy is/are genetically linked to them and they will not involve the child/children in any kind of pornography or paedophilia,” it further says.