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Union Cabinet clears bill to regulate surrogacy

While the Bill will regulate commercial surrogacy by prohibiting the sale and purchase of human embryo and gametes, ethical surrogacy to infertile couples will be allowed on certain conditions

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Union Cabinet clears bill to regulate surrogacy
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The Union Cabinet cleared the Surrogacy Regulation Bill, 2016 on Wednesday evening, allowing amendments to the Bill. The legislation, once passed, will regulate surrogacy across the country, prohibit commercial surrogacy, allowing only altruistic surrogacy to infertile couples.

While the Bill will regulate commercial surrogacy by prohibiting the sale and purchase of human embryo and gametes, ethical surrogacy to infertile couples will be allowed on certain conditions. The Bill also seeks to rein in unethical practices so that the exploitation of commercial mothers is stopped. It also mentions that surrogacy will only be allowed to Indian couples, who have been married for five years or more, in case one of the partners is infertile.

In addition, the surrogate mother needs to be a close relative of the couple, who has been married and already has a child. The Bill further states that no payment of any sort other than medical expenses will be allowed.

A national surrogacy board will be constituted as well as surrogacy boards for each state where appropriate authorities will grant eligibility certificates. Violations of the Bill will be punishable with imprisonment for over 10 years and a fine of up to Rs 10 lakh.

The Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha in November, 2016 after which it was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare. In its report, the Committee said that the Bill was 'narrow' in its approach and said that altruistic surrogacy is "far removed from the ground realities".

It had further suggested that the Bill broaden its eligibility criteria to including live-in couples, divorced women and widows. It also suggested that the five-year waiting period for couples be done away with and that surrogate mothers should not be limited to only close family members.

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