Gestational surrogacy is one of the parts of Third Party Reproduction. It is recommended for those patients who cannot bear the pregnancy on their own.
In surrogacy, the embryo which is produced with the help IVF /ICSI procedure is implanted into the womb of a female ( known a surrogate mother ) who then bears and delivers the child for the patient who cannot carry the pregnancy on their own.
In India, there are registered ART banks/agencies that provide the “ surrogate mothers “ for the patient. The advertisement, monetary compensation, insurance and legal framework of the agreement between the surrogate mother and patient is dealt with by the agency / ART bank. The clinician or IVF clinic is only responsible for the screening & medical treatment of the surrogate mother and the patient.
There are guidelines given by the ICMR ( Indian Council of Medical Research ), which lay a foundation on selection, responsibilities, rights, and regulation regarding the arrangement of surrogacy in India.
The surrogate mother is selected according to guidelines laid by the ICMR –
- She is a young woman between 23 to 35 years of age, who has children of her own.
- She should be free of sexually transmitted diseases, communicable diseases, and medically fit to carry the pregnancy.
- She should not have received any blood transfusion in the last 6 months. The consent of the spouse is mandatory.
Regarding the benefits and responsibilities of the Surrogate Mother,
the ICMR guidelines state the surrogate mother should
- Register at the obstetrics hospital as a surrogate mother only and provide the details of the “ intended” parents at the admission.
- The birth certificate of the child born through surrogacy will have the names of the patient/couple.
There is another form of surrogacy known as Altruistic surrogacy where the patient can bring their relative or known for surrogacy. International surrogacy is completely banned.
Recently, the government of India has proposed the Surrogacy Bill aimed to protect the rights of patients as well as surrogate mothers but it is yet to be approved by the parliament and come into effect.
In the Bill proposed by the Lok Sabha, only altruistic surrogacy is allowed, however, the bill is now sent to the standing committee for reviewing.
The issues like the duration of marriage of couple to be allowed for surrogacy, the candidates who can opt for surrogacy (single woman / divorced /widow), the insurance benefits to the surrogate mother, etc . are being addressed in the standing committee review and final guidelines will be available once the bill is passed in the parliament.
Main highlights of surrogacy (REGULATION ) bill 2020, which is yet to be passed by Rajya sabha are –
- Allows only Altruistic surrogacy, no commercial surrogacy.
- Condition Indicating Surrogacy – Certificate of medical condition indication to be obtained from the district board.
Who can avail surrogacy –
- The couple should be legally married.
- There should be a medical condition indication.
- Female age 23-50-years and male age 26-55 years.
- They should not have a child ( biologically or adopted ) or have one who is mentally or physically challenged or have an incurable or fatal disease.
- A widow or divorcee woman can avail surrogacy.
- The surrogate mother should be willing to be a surrogate and between age 25 -35. She should be married and having a child of her own, cannot be Surrogate for more than once in her lifetime.
- An order concerning the parentage and custody of a child born through surrogacy has to be passed by a court of the magistrate on an application made by the intending couple and the surrogate mother which will be taken as Birth Affidavit of the child born.