Commercial surrogacy has become $2 bn illegal industry: Anupriya Patel

New Delhi: The government today said commercial surrogacy has become a USD 2 billion illegal industry and a means to exploit vulnerable women even as it vowed not to let women in India become ‘baby factories’.

Minister of State for Health Anupriya Patel said commercial surrogacy has also become a means of exploiting children also, when they get abandoned.

‘We want to communicate that surrogacy should be the last option and we in no way are going to promote the idea of commercial surrogacy,’ Patel told NDTV.

The minister also spoke on Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill 2016, which was recently approved by the Union Cabinet, and has drawn criticism from several quarters.

She said the government is ‘conscious and sensitive’ and various issues which has not been touched so far may be addressed in the course of discussions in the parliament.

The bill is yet to be tabled in Parliament and there will be many more rounds of deliberation, Patel said.

‘It’s a long process. I believe that the outcomes are going to be in the larger interest of the nation,’ she said. She said 80 per cent of the total child births taking place through surrogacy in India are for foreign nationals.

‘Women in India are not baby factories. If you consider the total number of births of children which are taking place through surrogate mothers, 80 per cent of such births have been for foreign nationals. Why are they doing this? Are Indian women only made for this purpose? They are trying to escape the tough laws of surrogacy in their own homeland and therefore they are coming to India because poor, vulnerable tribal women are easily available. They give them petty money,’ she said.

The bill proposes a complete ban on commercial surrogacy and allows only legally-wedded Indian couples to opt for it. It also seeks to bar unmarried couples, single parents, live-in partners and homosexuals from opting for surrogacy.