Surrogacy – the case of the German twins (and now an Israeli man and a French man) born via an Indian surrogate who were just recently allowed to go home to Germany after a two year battle illustrates the urgent need for legislation to regulate the growing surrogacy industry in India.
“In 2002 the country legalized commercial surrogacy in an effort to promote medical tourism; a sector the Confederation of Indian Industry predicts will generate $2.3 billion annually by 2012. However, unlike most countries in which surrogacy is lawful the procedure can take place without reams of government red tape.”
This lack of regulation may soon change, a draft bill to regulate Assisted Reproductive Technology is supposed to be introduced in Parliament sometime this year. This new bill will strengthen the surrogacy guidelines which are written by the Indian Counsel of Medical Research and bans IVF clinics from brokering surrogacy transactions. The bill “also calls for the establishment of an ‘ART bank’ that will be responsible for locating surrogate mothers, as well as reproductive donors. Fertility clinics will only come into contact with surrogates on the operating table.”
These proposed new regulations have caused a stir in the Indian surrogacy community, especially since most clinics are used to writing and following their own guidelines. Dr. Nayna Patel of the Akanksha Infertility Clinic “insists that she will not accept a surrogate sent to Akanksha unless she herself is permitted to perform medical and background checks. She maintains that ART banks will not have enough experience to determine whether a woman is fit for surrogacy, let alone to replicate the personal bonds she cultivates with her surrogates. ‘The trust they have with me is what makes the whole thing secure and safe,’ she says. ‘And at the end, when they want to buy a house or a piece of land for farming, we get them the best deal. With this bill, we will not know what they are going to do with such a big amount of money.’”
The bill will also establish firm legal standards that will ensure that medical professionals only be permitted to implant three embryos in a woman’s uterus per attempt, only allow a woman to act as a surrogate up to five times, less if she has her own children, and will impose a 35-year age limit.
For foreign parents coming to India for surrogacy, the new bill will require that the foreign couple’s home country guarantee the unborn infant citizenship before the surrogacy agreement is signed. This could be a difficult thing since many countries will make no guarantees of citizenship in these cases. Also, since homosexual relationships are outlawed in India, it is unclear whether or not gay parents would be able to use Indian surrogates under the new bill.