Doctors raise concerns over new Surrogacy Bill

New Delhi: The Surrogacy Bill, which recently got the Lok Sabha’s nod, did not go down well the medical fraternity. This Bill was passed on Wednesday and is aimed at prohibiting commercial surrogacy and other unethical practices related to it.

The bill, which was first introduced by Health Minister J P Nadda, only permits surrogacy for couples who cannot conceive a child. The intending couple must be a resident of India and be married for a minimum of five years with at least one of them being infertile.

Moreover, the surrogate mother has to be close kin who has been married and has a child of her own.
Speaking to ANI, Dr. Aanchal Agarwal, Senior Consultant, Department of Infertility, IVF and Reproductive Medicine, BLK Super Speciality Hospital, stated that permitting surrogacy with robust screening and selection of cases in strictly regulated setup could have been more patient friendly than a complete ban.

“Those couples who genuinely need surrogacy due to either congenital malformation of uterus or surgically removed uterus will be at a big loss. Clinicians will not be able to help them despite possessing the skills and technology. Surrogacy involves carrying a baby for nine months , which is a long period , and not many relatives are willing to go to this length,” Agarwal said.

Joining Agarwal’s contention, Dr Archana Bajaj Dhawan, Gynaecologist, Obstetrician and IVF Expert, Nurture IVF Center and stated that with nearly 10,000 surrogacy cycles carried out annually in the country, the bill will narrow options for those wanting children.

“The proposed legislation is expected to ensure effective regulation of surrogacy, however prohibiting commercial surrogacy would not be a wise approach as identifying altruistic surrogacy for the needy couples would indeed prove a tough task,” Dhawan said.

“Sometimes even close relatives do not come forward as surrogates. It is promising to note that the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016 proposes to regulate surrogacy in India by establishing National Surrogacy Board and it should strongly regulate and check unethical practices but there should not be any ban on commercial surrogacy for those who genuinely need a surrogate to carry their biological child. The proposed law needs to primarily aim at providing support to all infertile Indian married couples, who want to avail ethical surrogacy. Putting a prohibition would restrict the scope and benefits of surrogacy and will prove to be a regressive move,” she added.

Dr. Madhulika Sinha, Senior Consultant: Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Aakash Healthcare Super Speciality Hospital was of the view that the regulation of surrogacy is a noble step but that does not nullify the fact that it will rob the women of their choices and will deny her of any financial benefits which can help her family.

She also highlighted the fact the rolling out the new Bill will adversely impact reproductive tourism as India is the one of the most preferred destinations for IVF treatment across the globe.

“It is a good attempt to put an end to the exploitation of women as a commodity in the marketplace.But in the present economic condition of India, this bill with an outright prohibition on commercial surrogacy will only push the ambitions to be achieved in a more unethical way. India is a preferred destination for IVF treatment including surrogacy. However, the proposed law will adversely impact reproductive tourism.

In the current form, the Bill does not address all actual concerns related to commercial surrogacy, hence needs some amendments In the current form, the Bill does not address all actual concerns related to commercial surrogacy, hence needs some amendments.,” Sinha stated.