City medico terms surrogacy bill as fallacious
The proposed bill for surrogacy passed by the cabinet will lead to more illegal activity, increase in number of suicides amongst females and increase in divorce, according to Dr. Deepak Goenka, Director of Institute of Human Reproduction (IHR). He termed the bill as fallacious.
The union cabinet cleared the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016 banning commercial surrogacy in the country and also barred foreigners, homosexual couples, people in live-in relationships and single individuals from attaining parenthood through surrogacy leaving only childless and straight Indian couples married for a minimum of five years eligible for surrogacy.
Commenting on the bar that has been mentioned in the bill, Dr. Goenka said that the bill is totally wrong and it is the responsibility of the awareness generator and the doctor to show the law maker the correct perspective. If someone showed them the wrong thing the law maker cannot make a law based on a fallacy. “The bill that has been proposed, as I assumed or presumed, is due to celebrities who have adopted the step of giving birth to a child through surrogacy. The celebrities are not the benchmark for the society and therefore the law makers should make the law based on facts,” said Dr. Goenka.
It is mentioned in the bill that the performing surrogate should be a close relative but the definition of “a close relative” has not been mentioned. To this, Dr. Goenka said that through this system of a close relative performing as a surrogate will increase crime and females will be put under extra pressure. “In a country like India, womenfolk are always given trouble and if the performing surrogate has to be a close relative then the daughters-in-law will face much more trouble. The daughters-in-law who already are under pressure will have to take additional pressure as they will be forced to carry the baby for say, her sister-in-law, whether she wants to or not. It has also been said that single individuals can’t opt for surrogacy. This is meaningless. Doesn’t a single individual who might not have “a close relative” have the urge to become a mother or father? Children are the foundation of a family and without children the family is incomplete,” Dr. Goenka added.
According to Dr. Goenka one should know why surrogacy is done. Surrogacy is done by people who have various medical problems like high blood pressure, cardiac problems, kidney problems which, during pregnancy, might pose a risk factor. Another thing which has been incorporated in the proposed bill is that a couple will have to wait for minimum five years to opt for surrogacy which is again valueless. “If a woman knows that she cannot give birth to a baby then why should she wait for five years? If a girl marries at the age of 35 and learns that she won’t be able to carry a baby, why should she wait till she turns 40? She should have the option of surrogacy immediately,” said Dr. Goenka.
Another key aspect of the bill is that foreigners or even overseas Indians are barred from commissioning surrogacy which has again been opposed by the doctor on the grounds that if an Indian can commit the crime why can’t the foreigners? If surrogacy is bad then it should be banned totally rather than implementing selective bans. Another aspect is that surrogacy can be done only once whereas the Indian population has the tendency of having more than one child. “If people can have two-three children normally why the surrogate mother can’t opt for giving mothers two children? The first child might have some medical problem or unfortunately might expire. In such practical scenarios, doesn’t she have the right to give birth to a second child?” Dr. Goenka raised the question and said that the bill should have been proposed keeping such factors in mind and in consultation with the doctors who know better about surrogacy.
However, in the city or in the north-eastern region the concept of surrogacy has not yet caught on because of lack of awareness and also people are more apprehensive of the society’s reactions rather than their own future. In a year, 10-15 cases of surrogacy are reported in Guwahati.
Eligible couples will have to turn to close relatives, not necessarily related by blood for altruistic surrogacy - where no money exchanges hands between the commissioning couple and the surrogate mother.
Minister for External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj, defended making homosexuals ineligible for surrogacy.
According to Dr. Goenka, infertility is increasing due to changing lifestyles. “Earlier, the girl got married at a young age but now-a-days girls are career oriented and late marriages cause infertility. The best age to conceive is 25-32 years. Now-a-days, women are literate and they are also conscious about the family and therefore, they preserve the eggs before the stipulated age so that they do not have to face problems for pregnancy. Recently, Apple also announced that they will pay women employees for freezing their eggs,” the doctor informed.
Egg freezing is a process by which a woman extracts and stores her eggs so that they can be reinserted into her uterus at a later date, allowing her to have children during a time when she might otherwise be infertile.
What is surrogacy?
Surrogacy agreement is the carrying of a pregnancy for intended parents. There are two main types of surrogacy - gestational surrogacy (also known as host or full surrogacy) which was first achieved in April 1986 and traditional surrogacy (also known as partial, genetic, or straight surrogacy). In gestational surrogacy, the pregnancy results from the transfer of an embryo created by in vitro fertilization (IVF), in a manner so the resulting child is genetically unrelated to the surrogate. Gestational surrogates are also referred to as gestational carriers. In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate is impregnated naturally or artificially, but the resulting child is genetically related to the surrogate. In the United States, gestational surrogacy is more common than traditional surrogacy and is considered less legally complex.
Mileposts on the surrogacy timeline
1930s – In the U.S., pharmaceutical companies Schering-Kahlbaum and Parke-Davis started the mass production of estrogen.
1944 – Harvard Medical School professor John Rock broke ground by becoming the first person to fertilize human ova outside the uterus.
1953 – Researchers successfully performed the first cryopreservation of sperm.
1971 – The first commercial sperm bank opened in New York, which spurred the growth of this type of business into a highly profitable venture.
1978 – Louise Brown, the first test-tube baby, was born in England. She was the product of the first successful IVF procedure.
1980 – Michigan lawyer Noel Keane wrote the first surrogacy contract.
1985 – A woman carried the first successful gestational surrogate pregnancy.
1986 – Melissa Stern, otherwise known as “Baby M,” was born in the U.S. The surrogate and biological mother, Mary Beth Whitehead, refused to cede custody of Melissa to the couple with whom she made the surrogacy agreement. 1990 – In California, gestational carrier Anna Johnson refused to give up the baby to intended parents Mark and Crispina Calvert. The couple sued her for custody (Calvert v. Johnson), and the court upheld their parental rights. In doing so, it legally defined the true mother as the woman who, according to the surrogacy agreement, intends to create and raise a child.
1994 - The Chinese Ministry of Health banned gestational surrogacy because of the legal complications of defining true parenthood and possible refusal by surrogates to relinquish a baby.
2009 – The Chinese government increased enforcement of the gestational-surrogacy ban, and Chinese women began coming forth with complaints of forced abortions.
The draft bill of surrogacy is fallacious
The ban on commercial surrogacy will affect people who do not have children
10-15 cases of surrogacy are reported in Guwahati in a year
Daughters-in-law will come under additional pressure with the passing of the surrogacy bill
A surrogate mother should be in the age group of 21 to 45 years and should have children of their own
They should not attempt surrogacy more than three times in their lifetime