Why ART Bill is significant in Surrogacy
There is a need of surrogate pregnancy for those couples who are unable to give birth to a baby through normal natural way. The mother is capable of producing healthy and a normal egg, the father has healthy and sufficient count of sperms; still doctors suggest not to go for pregnancy. There might be some genetic problems that doctors do not want to get carried forward in the next generation, or there may be structural problems like small size of the uterus or narrow opening path that could cause serious risk during pregnancy for the mother and the baby. The situation is frustrating and in the earlier days there was no solution for this problem. Advance techniques in the science of reproduction have given a solution for this problem in the form of surrogacy. Now it is possible to fertilize the egg externally and place the embryo in some other woman's womb that is ready to bear the pregnancy. After the childbirth, baby is handed over to the 'original' or genetic parents. Dr. Rita Bakshi of International Fertility Clinic, New Delhi quotes that India has become a ‘dream destination’ for surrogacy all over the world.
Need of ART bill
- The relatively low cost of surrogacy in India
- Advance medical facilities and availability of expert doctors
- Relatively flexible rules and regulations
- Availability of surrogate mothers with a good medical history
- Tourist attractions of rich cultural and historical significance in India
However, there were a few loopholes in this process because of the legal flexibility. Ambiguous judiciary guidelines caused major disputes and there was a strong need felt to have bill for surrogacy. In the year 2010, a draft bill on Assisted Reproductive Technology was prepared and submitted. It covered every aspect of ART and surrogacy in a comprehensive manner to provide complete coverage to the treatment process and to protect the rights of all the three parties.
How it is significant in surrogacy
ART bill is a comprehensive bill that gives an overall coverage to the process and looks into every aspect of it, irrespective of the magnitude.
- The process of giving womb on rent is called surrogacy and it is considered completely legal in our country. Asking for financial reimbursement is also valid and within the law of the land. However, there are clear guidelines regarding to prevent the commercialization of it.
- The bill considers the term 'couple' as two people having a sexual relationship that is valid and legal according to Indian law. Recently the supreme court of India has given verdict in the favour of sexual relationship of same sex, gays or lesbian can also go for surrogate pregnancy legally. However, the number of such cases is less in India.
- The surrogate mother must be in the age bracket of 21 to 35. One surrogate woman can bear at the most five pregnancies, including her own children. This is to ensure the health of surrogate mothers.
- In case of single parents going for the option of surrogacy, he or she will be considered a legitimate parent of the surrogate baby. The single parent will have to agree and bear the cost of egg or sperm donation, as the case may be.
- The couples that have a live-in relationship will be considered legitimate parents in case they go for surrogate pregnancy. The responsibility of the baby that was born through surrogate process will be shared jointly by both and any of them can’t deny from it.
- The cost of surrogacy will be borne by the intended parents completely. A contractual obligation has to be there among all three parties. Infertility clinics like IFC facilitate to provide insurance coverage to the surrogate mother.
- For intended parents that do not belong to India, they have to produce the surrogacy policy of their respective country. It is mandatory to know the salient aspects of legitimacy. Legal documents and certificates are needed ensure the validity of the documents. This is to avoid any conflicts between surrogacy laws of both countries.
- Complete details of surrogate mothers and egg donors will be maintained by government certified banks. State boards will certify the ART banks that are an independent body to register, monitor and maintain the validity. It minimizes the chances of commercialization of the whole process.
- Any attempt to know the sex of the baby before childbirth is strictly prohibited. There is no scope for 'selective pregnancy' on the basis of baby's sex. ART bill ensures that surrogacy is not made a tool of churning out male child.
- It is a method of pregnancy and childbirth to provide chance of enjoying parenthood to couples that otherwise unable to do it the same. In no case it should be an attempt to commercialize or used for cloning. None of the three parties the intended parents, infertility clinic and surrogate mother uses it as a ‘factory of babies’.
The intentions of ART bill are crystal clear and it is completely unbiased and equal. It is more relevant in surrogate pregnancy since the pregnancy and childbirth is a long and complicated process. There is a need of continuous monitoring and care of the surrogate mother. ART bill ensures that everything is covered under legal bracket leaving no chance for disputes or discussions. Surrogate mother is given clear-cut idea about the legitimacy and she is advised not to have any emotional bonding with the baby. It has to be handed over to the actual parents after pregnancy and for all legal aspects; the intended parents will have all the rights.
ART bill was presented with the fundamental intention to protect the rights of all parties that take part in the process, in an unbiased and equal perception. The fundamental need of ART bill was to ensure that none of the parties is exploiting or getting exploited. The right of equality is well preserved and accessed during the complete process. The intended parents who are spending a big money get value for money and the surrogate mother who takes the risk of pregnancy and childbirth. The family of surrogate mother is at high risk and therefore needs financial protection. Infertility clinic and doctors take part in the medical process with good intentions, hence needs well protection for their efforts.
It is a bill formulated comprehensively so that everybody gets equal opportunity to avail the best of it and there is no scope for confusion and conflicts in the process of surrogacy!