On August 24 2016 , India’s external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj announced cabinet approval for the new surrogacy bill. The draft Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill 2016 that aims to safeguard the rights of surrogate mothers, in the process, proposes a complete ban on surrogacy, a practice wherein a woman gives birth to a child for a couple with the intention of handing over the child to them after birth.
The bill bans “commercial” surrogacy wherein the surrogate mother is paid a lump sum amount to bear the child by the couple. It allows ‘altruistic’ surrogacy for Indian couples, which means no monetary benefits, will be provided to the surrogate mother, who, necessarily, has to be a close relative of the couple.
Swaraj not only slammed celebrities for opting for surrogacy out of ‘fashion”, but went a step ahead and said the government is clear that surrogacy is only for those who need it and will not be permitted for reasons such as avoidance of labour pain.
While the minister added the bill intended to prevent exploitation of women, especially those in rural and tribal areas, and stamp out “womb trade,” there have been conflicting views from women activists and scholars who claim it’s a survival strategy for such women and a way out of their family issues.
However, the government contends there have been incidents concerning unethical practices, exploitation of surrogate mothers, abandonment of children born out of surrogacy and rackets involving intermediaries and unscrupulous elements.
Activist Arunima Shah debates, “It is because commercial surrogacy is banned in several parts of the world that India has become a hub for surrogacy. Low-cost technology, skilled doctors and a ready supply of surrogates have made India a preferred destination for fertility tourism