NEW DELHI -- This week, the central government informed the Supreme Court that its proposed law - The Assisted Reproductive Techniques (Regulation) Bill, 2014 - will only allow surrogacy for Indian couples, not foreigners.
The government wants Indian women only to be surrogate mothers for other Indian women.
The draft bill holds exceptions for Overseas Citizen of India (OCIs), People of Indian Origin (PIOs), Non Resident Indians (NRIs) and a foreigner married to an Indian citizen.
In recent years, thousands of foreign couples have come to India in the hope of finding low-cost surrogate mothers. While commercial surrogacy has boomed into an estimated $2billion-a-year industry, critics are concerned about the exploitation of impoverished Indian women, who “rent-a-womb."
"Surrogacy Motherhood: ethical or commercial?, a report released by the New Delhi-based Centre for Social Research in 2013, found that the majority of women surveyed in Delhi and Mumbai were employed as domestic help earning more than Rs3,000 a month.
Concerned groups have called for strict regulation for surrogacy in a legal framework which protect the rights of surrogate mothers in India. But banning foreigners from availing surrogacy services creates the risk of a bigger black market.
Submitting its affidavit to the Supreme Court on Wednesday, the government said that the objective of surrogacy should be altruistic, and it does not support commercial surrogacy.
"The government does not support commercial surrogacy and also the scope of surrogacy is limited to Indian married infertile couples only and not to the foreigners," the affidavit said.
Commercial surrogacy is illegal in many countries.
In India, there is a no payment structure for surrogate mothers. The CSR report on surrogacy found that that 46 percent of the respondents in Delhi, and 44 percent in Mumbai, said they received Rs3-4 lakh for being a surrogate mother.
The government affidavit also described the question of - whether the surrogate mother and the genetic mother would both be considered mother of the child- as "very complex," and this will have to be settled after further consultation with the ministries of Law and Women and Child Development.
The new law will also include a penalty on couples refusing to take custody of a surrogate child born with disabilities.
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