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New surrogacy law changes will uphold right to parenthood for all individuals: Experts

IANS Feb 24, 2024

The latest amendment to the surrogacy law will uphold the right to parenthood for all individuals, said experts on 23 Feb.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare amended the Surrogacy (Regulation) Rules, 2022 to allow the use of a donor gamete – ova or egg cells and sperm – if one of the “intending couple” has a medical condition.

"The new guidelines on surrogacy reflect a progressive step towards fostering inclusivity and accessibility in assisted reproductive technologies," Dr Lavi Sindhu, Senior Consultant, Birla Fertility & IVF, Lajpat Nagar.

"By allowing couples with medical conditions to utilise surrogacy, the government is not only expanding the scope of reproductive options but also upholding the right to parenthood for all individuals, regardless of their medical circumstances. These guidelines signal a commitment to addressing the evolving needs of families while ensuring ethical and regulated surrogacy practices in India," Dr Lavi added.

Surrogacy is the practice wherein a woman agrees to carry a foetus and give birth to a baby for someone else. However, they have no parental rights for the child.

This can be of two types: altruistic and commercial. In the former, no commercial compensation for the surrogate mother is included whereas in the latter, the surrogate mother is paid for bearing the child.

Before the passing of the Surrogacy (Regulation) Act, 2021 in India, restrictions on the definition, process, and rights of the intending couple, intending mother, surrogate, and child were not established.

Now, only altruistic surrogacy is permitted in India, said Managing Director & Co-Founder of Indira IVF.

He explained that the Act first presented had allowed the use of gametes only from the biological parents to be fertilised and to be used for surrogacy.

"However, there can be other medical indications due to which a female might be unable to produce eggs at all and may also have a dysfunctional uterus," the Director said.

"Keeping this in mind, the amendment to allow the use of one donor gamete has been introduced." But, the amendment does not introduce changes for single women who are widowed or divorced.

"Should they opt for surrogacy, the egg must be their own and they may opt for a donor sperm," the Director noted. Nitiz further said that the process may be slightly longer and tedious for an intending couple or woman.

Four documents which include a certificate of essentiality, certificate of eligibility of surrogate mother, certificate of eligibility of intending couple or woman, and approval for availing surrogacy from the state ART board have to be produced.

Following this, and on a unique case basis only, intending couples would be allowed to use either a sperm or egg donor for surrogacy.

"Such patients may require assistance from a lawyer to get the documents to apply for surrogacy. Thus, an additional legal cost may be implied for the patient, thereby, increasing the overall cost of treatment," he said.

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