Saturday, August 10, 2013

Latest update on Surrogacy Bill debate on NDTV

Some hope? Or more confusion... A bit of both. Video of NDTV panel debate on the Surrogacy Bill below.

NDTV surrogacy debate

Anyone looking at the Draft Surrogacy Bill on the ICMR's website needs to be aware that one is the 2010 version of the Bill. There is a 2013 revision which, according to Dr Pushpa Bhargava, Chairman of the Drafting Committee, has left the committee and is in the hands of the Law Ministry. The 2013 draft allows surrogacy for singles. Awesome!

I have transcribed Dr Pushpa's opening comments from the panel debate.

The option in the Bill is still there, that an individual can have a child, there is nothing in the Bill that prevents an individual from having a child.

In the final draft that went out of our hands to the Law Ministry, there is a provision that an individual can have a child, for example to a surrogate, that this is not prohibited, this is not prohibited in the draft Bill. And let us not forget that the Supreme Court has already ruled that any individual can adopt a child, so then if an individual can adopt a child there is no reason why an individual should not be allowed to have a child through surrogacy. 
- Dr Pushpa Bhargava, Hyderabad, Chairman of the Drafting Committee, ART Surrogacy Bill.

It is interesting to note that four of the five panellists were in favour of singles being allowed to do surrogacy in India, and the one women's rights activist on the panel also didn't seem to object, but was more concerned with surrogates and children's rights.  

It seems only the Director General of Health wants to ban surrogacy for foreigners who do not have Indian origin. (see previous blog post), his comments have not even been received by the Drafting Committee, and the Bill is now with the Law Ministry. Whether DGHS can influence the lawmakers and have his suggestion included in the Bill remains to be seen.

Before anyone gets excited about India potentially allowing single foreigners for surrogacy, based on this debate, it is important to remember that a Bill is only a draft of a potential law. The Bill must still go through many levels of debate and revision before it is passed to Cabinet, where it will be debated by politicians  and voted on. If the Bill passes in its current form, it goes into Law, if not it is back to the drafting table and more discussion, revision and so forth.

I don't see anything changing in the short-term for singles. How long before the Bill becomes law is anyone's guess. For now we watch and wait .. and hope ... though the hope for the majority of would-be commissioning parents I speak with is largely extinguished. Trust in the Indian Government is badly eroded, and fear the fickle state of play could change again at any time is high.  Even those who qualify for a medical visa for surrogacy in India are looking elsewhere.

At least the issues are out in the open and being debated. Quite the opposite of the swifty pulled on residents of NSW by both houses of parliament which rushed through Linda Burney's ill-conceived amendment to NSW Surrogacy Laws making it a criminal offence for any resident to go abroad for purposes of surrogacy in 48 hours, with no debate or public consultation. Democracy at its finest, Good one NSW pollies.!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for keeping us updated on these important developments. I think you've captured the general feeling well in your post.

This whole debacle with the Draft Bill and Ministry of Home Affairs has completely wiped out any desire that we have to return to India to try for another baby. Even if the law does change to allow singles to pursue surrogacy again in India I have no confidence that that situation will remain constant throughout any attempt to grow our family.

The confusion and lack of transparency in the legal situation is in my view also reflected in our dealings with our former clinic. Frankly, as time went on we lost all trust and faith in the work of the clinic and began to question the veracity of the communications that were coming from them. In a process that is so much based on trust and confidence any loss of such is a major obstacle.

When you add in cultural barriers and communication issues we have decided that it is too risky, too difficult and too draining to pursue surrogacy in India again.

Amani (Meg) said...

India is still a good option for surrogacy, this is a major hiccup, but one that needed to happen. It is likely in coming years we will see something similar happen in Thailand which has no surrogacy laws, only a draft Bill banning commercial surrogacy in its present form. If the Indian powers that be can get this Surrogacy Bill enacted, it may well give more power to surrogates, and clean up a lot of the industry, not all clinics are equal and there is abuse that happens. But a law is only as good as the ability to enforce it, and I don't see that happening in India - the land of bribe your way out of anything and everything.

Sarah L. said...

Hi Meg,
I've been following your blog. Thanks so much for keeping us dated! I just have a quick question: of all countries that surrogacy is allowed, which one (ones) lets commissioning parents put their own names on the baby's birth certificate? It doesn't seem Thailand lets you do that.