Rajya Sabha approves the Surrogacy Regulation Bill and the ART Bill

Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya stated in the Rajya Sabha that both Bills seek to restrict unethical activities connected to sex selection and surrogate exploitation.

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Rajya Sabha approves the Surrogacy Regulation Bill and the ART Bill

In the absence of the opposition, the Rajya Sabha passed both the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, 2021, and the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2020 on Wednesday. The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill had already been passed by the Lok Sabha, but the Rajya Sabha referred it to a Select Committee. The Bill will now be returned to the Lok Sabha for consideration.

Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya stated in the Rajya Sabha that both Bills seek to restrict unethical activities connected to sex selection and surrogate exploitation.

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“These bills have been pending for a long time.” Couples would travel to India, buy wombs, and return with children. Kanupriya, the first test-tube baby born in India, was born on October 3, 1978. IVF and surrogacy have been practiced in India for decades,” said the minister, adding that it had become more than necessary to regulate both Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) and surrogacy in the country.

As per the minister, a 26-year-old lady died in 2014 as a result of problems during egg retrieval. “During ART, the ovaries are stimulated in order for eggs to be harvested.” “This is a very complex technique that must be regulated,” he explained.

“Unmarried ladies sell their wombs to get over financial difficulties.” This should not be happening. In the state of Andhra, a 74-year-old mother gave birth to twins. How will such an elderly person raise their children? It is medically harmful and ethically wrong,” the minister stated, adding that there are unregulated IVF clinics all across the country, as well as unregulated surrogacy — sex selection was going place in both directions.

“This is a progressive Bill that will reduce women’s exploitation,” the minister stated.

Mandaviya went on to say that the Select Committee made 64 recommendations, which the government reviewed and many of which were put into the Surrogacy Bill. “They also urged that the ART and Surrogacy Bills be combined, otherwise the aim would be defeated.” And we have done so,” he added, adding that the Bills’ goal was to assist motherhood rather than to create “an industry where financial gains are gained.” According to the minister, this is why the government has included a provision enabling a woman to become a surrogate only once.

Mandaviya went on to say that in the event of ART, a year’s insurance would be required, and that in the case of surrogacy, the government has made it essential to offer insurance for 36 months in order to cover any post-birth difficulties or physical and mental health issues.

“Penalties have also been established in order to prevent exploitation.” A first-time offender will face a penalty of Rs 5-10 lakh for unethical actions. A repeat offender faces a fine of Rs 10-20 lakh or imprisonment for eight years,” the minister added.

Ajit Kumar Bhuyan, an independent Rajya Sabha MP from Assam, defied the Opposition boycott of Rajya Sabha to reject the Surrogacy Bill. “I am a member of the opposition.” But because this Bill is so essential, I’ve decided to speak on it,” he added before walking out after presenting his concerns to the Bill.

“The ban on commercial surrogacy is yet another evidence of how disconnected legislators are from ground reality.” You claim that this is an attempt to reduce exploitation, but in reality, by removing the commercial component, you are limiting the rights of female surrogates. Is she supposed to provide these services for free? By stating that the surrogate must be a close relative, you further exploit her. Even for regular pregnancies, women face a lot of pressure, so there’s no guarantee that they won’t be compelled to become surrogates by their families. The Bill fails to address domestic abuse against women. Are women going through this incredibly intrusive medical procedure out of love and compassion — why should women have to be altruistic about it?” Bhuyan stated.

In support of the surrogacy bill, YSRCP’s Ayodhya Rama Reddy stated that the government must consider and plan for postpartum depression, and that maternal benefits should be offered to both moms. Kanakamedala Ravindra Kumar of the TDP suggested that ART and IVF clinics be expanded to areas around the country to serve the economically disadvantaged.

According to Dr. Amar Patnaik of the BJD, the government should reconsider the one-year (down from the previously proposed five-year) time frame for IVF treatment before allowing people to use surrogacy because many women are medically unfit to have children and suffer from little-known and undetectable illnesses such as tokophobia, or the fear of childbirth.

Both Bhuyan and Patnaik suggested the possibility of allowing the LGBTQ community to use surrogacy rather than restricting the Bill to heterosexual couples. “What happens to bachelors and the LGBTQ community?” Surrogacy is legal in many nations. The Supreme Court stated in its 2016 decision in the Devika Biswas vs Union of India case that the right to reproduce is a basic right – confining the Bills to heterosexual couples is in violation of this. ICMR guidelines allow single mothers to receive ART, but this is not included in either Bill,” Dr Patnaik stated.

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Rajya Sabha approves the Surrogacy Regulation Bill and the ART Bill
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Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya stated in the Rajya Sabha that both Bills seek to restrict unethical activities connected to sex selection and surrogate exploitation.
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THE POLICY TIMES
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