THE ECONOMIC TIMES: Why surrogacy issue emerges after Nepal earthquake
By Ishani Duttagupta
May 4, 2015
An unexpected fallout of the recent earthquake in Nepal was the evacuation by the Israeli government of 26 newborn surrogate babies from the ravaged country even as the mothers, mostly Indian women, were left behind. The parents of the babies were mostly gay Israeli men, who are not allowed surrogacy under Israeli laws and hence seek options overseas. While most of the surrogate mothers are Indian, they chose to have their babies in Nepal because a change in Indian law in 2014 restricts surrogacy only to married heterosexual couples. For Indian women, moving to Nepal to have the babies is quite simple because no extra documents are required.
The Israel government has clarified that their surrogacy laws don’t have a natural disaster clause, the reason why the babies were airlifted while the mothers left behind. Further, Israel is now looking at allowing the pregnant Indian surrogate mothers to fly to Israel to give birth to their babies. The government even plans to speak with authorities in India so that complications don’t arise when it is time to sever the legal connection between the surrogate mothers and children in Israel.
Even as India emerges as a hub for surrogacy arrangements, India’s assisted reproductive technology Bill of 2010 has legalised commercial surrogacy stating that the surrogate mother may receive monetary compensation and will relinquish all parental rights. Foreigners, upon registration with their embassies, can currently seek surrogate arrangements.
“However, in 2014, meetings between various government departments and ministries on the proposed Bill have resulted in some significant changes coming up including a very significant one which restricts surrogacy in India to infertile Indian married couples only. If these changes are incorporated, foreigners will not be allowed to get into surrogacy arrangements in India unless they are married to Indians. Nonresident Indians excluding persons of Indian origin (PIOs) and overseas citizens of India (OCIs) shall, however, be eligible,” says Ranjit Malhotra, a Chandigarhbased lawyer and expert on legal issues around surrogacy. He adds that following the discussions in government, all single persons and unmarried couples have been declared ineligible from even applying for a visa in any category for coming to India for the purposes of surrogacy. Which is why the Indian women who have delivered surrogate children for the Israeli couples had moved to Nepal.
According to the draft Bill on surrogacy, foreigners or PIOs coming to India to rent a womb have to submit documentation confirming that their country of residence recognises surrogacy as legal and that it will give citizenship to the child born through the surrogacy agreement from an Indian mother.
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