NEW DELHI -- External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday questioned the practice of commercial surrogacy, giving an example of a British couple in India who have not been able to get a British passport for their daughter Lily, born out of surrogacy in India. In fact, they may have to leave the child in an orphanage in India if they are unable to find a solution soon, according to reports.
Lily was born to Chris and Michele Newman, a couple from Epsom in Surrey, England, in May this year through commercial surrogacy in Mumbai. However, the couple could not get a British passport for their daughter before their Indian visa expired earlier this month. While they have got a one-month extension on their visa, it is likely they will have to leave the country without their daughter if they are unable to get travel documents for her from the British government. Swaraj has offered to help the couple further extend their visa after media reports on their case, but she also used the opportunity to question commercial surrogacy, which she wants banned in India.
"Chris & Michele Newman - Orphanage is not an option for Baby Lily. We will help u with extension of your Visa. Pl give your details. Meanwhile, pl obtain British passport for Baby Lily (Sic)," Swaraj said in a series of tweets.
The couple have started a public petition where they described the frustrating issues they have faced with the British and Indian authorities.
"Lily's application for her UK passport has been with the Passport office since 3rd June, but processing delays with the international checks at the UK passport office have meant we are now left stranded with no idea about when we will make it home," according to the petition.
"To make matters worse we have been given a deadline of 7th October to leave India, so must have Lily s passport in our possession by this time or we must leave without her."
Swaraj, who has faced flak from some quarters for her defence of the Centre's plan to ban commercial surrogacy in India, also used the matter to take a dig at critics and also questioned the British authorities.
"Will the advocates of commercial surrogacy suggest a solution and help this Baby? Commercial surrogacy is banned in Britain. Will British Government give a British passport to this surrogate Baby? Should orphanage be the destiny of a surrogate Baby?" she had posted on Twitter yesterday.
(with PTI inputs)