Our notions of motherhood -Gargi Mishra

-The Indian Express

Bill to promote altruistic surrogacy gives short shrift to women’s agency.

The Lok Sabha passed the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill 2019 on Tuesday. The Billl aims to regulate the practice of surrogacy in India and allow only “ethical altruistic surrogacy”. The Bill was first introduced in the lower house in November 2016, then referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare. It was introduced and passed by the Lok Sabha again in December 2018 without incorporating most of the recommendations of the Committee, but lapsed. The 2019 Bill is identical to the Bill of 2018.

It showcases the state’s heavy reliance on criminal law for managing social issues, criminalisation of choice and prejudiced ideas of what constitutes a family. The Bill disallows single, divorced or widowed persons, unmarried couples and homosexual couples from pursuing surrogacy to have children. It stipulates that only a man and woman married for at least five years, where either or both are proven infertile, can avail of surrogacy. This is blatantly discriminatory and arbitrary.

India’s jurisprudence recognises the reproductive autonomy of single persons, the rights of persons in live-in relationships and fundamental rights of transgenders. In Navtej Singh Johar vs Union of India, Supreme Court, having decriminalised consensual same-sex between consenting adults, held that the law cannot discriminate against same-sex partnerships and that it must “take positive steps to achieve equal protection”. Single persons have the right to adopt children in India. The Bill is out of step with these developments.

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The Indian Express, 9 August, 2019, https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/surrogacy-regulation-bill-laws-in-india-commercial-surrogacy-5890510/?fbclid=IwAR3q64BooOgZUZIgC2i6bBQbL17w5NFhly6

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