In a decisive step to ban "rent-a-womb" type surrogacy businesses, the Indian Parliament is set to pass a commercial surrogacy bill on Wednesday ensuring the effective regulation of an industry that has been thriving, with thousands of fertility clinics cropping up across the country since the first legislation in 2002.
Any person in violation of the law will be imprisoned up to 10 years and a fine up to 10 million rupees ($14,000). The proposed law, however, allows for altruistic surrogacy for needy infertile couples.
As per the bill, altruistic surrogacy is one that involves no “monetary compensation to the surrogate mother other than the medical expenses and insurance coverage during the pregnancy".
To prohibit the misuse of altruistic surrogacy, the law mentioned that the Indian couple in need should have a "certificate of essentiality" and a "certificate of eligibility" issued by the appropriate authority. Unmarried, gay, live-in couples, or single parents will not be considered for altruistic surrogacy. Any woman aged between 25-35 can be surrogate only once in her lifetime, the law specified.
The proposed law also clarified that a “child born out of a surrogacy procedure will be deemed to be the biological child of the intending couple”. Besides this, abortion of the surrogate child will require the written consent of the surrogate mother.
The proposed law also provides for the constitution of a National Surrogacy Board, State Surrogacy Boards, and the appointment of appropriate authorities to regulate the practice and process of surrogacy.
India has more than 3,000 commercial surrogacy clinics that will now have to be registered under the National Surrogacy Board.
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) estimates the annual business in India to be worth $450 million, while private estimates suggest that this market is worth approximately $2.3 billion.
The usual fee for surrogacy is around $12,000 to $20,000 in India which is around 1/6th of that in developed countries like the US.