In anticipation of the ART bill introduction in the coming winter session of parliament, the conference “A Policy Dialogue on Issues around Surrogacy in India” has been successfully held on the 22nd and 23rd September 2014 at the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi.
The national conference, organized by the CSR in collaboration with Heinrich Böll Stiftung, gathered together representatives of all fields involved in the practice of surrogacy, including the medical sector (doctors and fertility clinic representatives: Dr. R. Bakshi from International Fertility Centre, Dr. N.H Patel from Akanksha Infertility Clinic, Dr. Bavishi, president of INSTAR, Dr. Sonia Malik, President IFS, and Dr. R.S. Sharma, Director of ICMR), the legal sector (national and international lawyers, as well as delegates of the Supreme Court of India), and members of the Government (Mr. P. Sudan, Ministry of Women & Child Development, Dr. V.M. Katoch, and Ministry of Health & Family Welfare). Representatives of the civil society, NGOs, researchers and human rights activists also attended.
All parties have come together to address various ethical, medical, commercial and legal issues involving surrogacy, and debating upon the regulation that are still required for commercial surrogacy in India. Participants have had equal opportunity to share their opinion and expressing their view, which ultimately allowed them to bring forward recommendations for a future governmental policy regulation.
The members involved agreed these policy recommendations should be practical in nature. They can be clustered in seven main spheres and are the following*:
- Surrogate remuneration should be standardised.
- Provision of post-natal care for the surrogate mother should be mandatory.
- Trafficking of women for surrogacy, its offence and punishment must be regulated.
- Specific provisions ensuring protection of the foetus/child in case of abnormalities must be included.
- The Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, which forbids sex selection, must be enforced.
- Surrogate child should have granted dual citizenship.
- Intended Parent/s shall be legally bound to accept the custody of the child irrespective of any abnormality that the child may have, and the refusal to do so should constitute a criminal offence.
- Foreigners should be allowed to opt for surrogacy in India, but the country of origin of the intended parents must allow surrogacy.
- The law should not exclude LGBT, single parents and unmarried couples.
Doctors and Clinics
- Ensure clinics respect the legal limits applied for a woman acting as a surrogate in her lifetime, as well as those regarding hyper-stimulation and egg donation.
- Guarantee complete transparency between the doctor and the surrogate mother with respect to any medical practice applied.
- Strengthen doctors’ criminal responsibility.
- Regulate the role and responsibilities of agents.
- It should allow women flexibility to make their own decisions regarding their own bodies and ensure limited control from doctors.
- It should also be in the vernacular language, and a copy of it has to be given to the surrogate mother.
- All stakeholders should sign the contract, including the agent.
- Counseling of all the parts involved in respect of medical, financial, legal, cultural and social aspects.
- Creation of a nodal agency to act as depository of all documents and acts as grievance redress cell.
- A central database or registration of surrogates for real information such as their permanent address, number of children, etc. should be maintained.
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