Members have raised serious objections against the Bill, passed by Lok Sabha in the monsoon session.
The prime minister, while addressing the 250th session of Rajya Sabha, remarked that the House has ensured checks and balances for the system, which are essential for a democracy. Although he did go on to say that there is also a difference between checking and clogging, the decision of the Upper House to send the Surrogacy Bill that the government is pushing to a select Rajya Sabha panel is a sound one. Members have raised serious objections against the Bill, passed by Lok Sabha in the monsoon session. Across party lines, members of the Upper House believe that some of the provisions, like surrogacy only by a close relative, the five-year waiting period, and a rule limiting it to only married couples, were prohibitive and exclusionary. They were quick to point out that, in its present form, the Bill would lead to exploitation of close relatives, as also the surrogate parents, who would needlessly have to wait five years.
While there is no doubt that, sans regulations, surrogacy sweatshops had mushroomed across the country—the health minister, in a recent debate, highlighted that there were 3,000 such clinics in India—the government’s bill only makes matters worse. Restrictions will mean clandestine sweatshops thrive. With such onerous regulations, people could also go to nations where laws are more liberal. A better solution would be to allow commercial surrogacy while strictly enforcing provisions that safeguard the surrogate’s health and commercial interests. Once sweatshops are history, the National Surrogacy Board can regulate the industry, as happened in the case of adoption.