Abetting surrogacy

T. K. Rajalakshmi | Frontline | Volume 25, Issue 22 | Oct 25 – Nov 7, 2008

Commercial surrogacy, though banned in several developed countries for obvious reasons, may soon become a reality in India thanks to the joint efforts of private medical establishments and the Union government. A Bill that seeks to legalise commercial surrogacy has been drafted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

Resistance, if any, to the legalising of commercial surrogacy is coming from health activists and women’s organisations. Interestingly, the Bill, called the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill and Rules, 2008, did not involve at any stage women’s groups or public health activists in its drafting. In fact, several people wonder what a premier institution concerned with medical research has to do with a Bill like this. Regulation of surrogacy, many feel, would give a legitimate stamp to the commercial activity that is already under way. “It is like saying we know you are exploited but here is a law that will ensure that you will be exploited less,” said a health activist who also pointed out that by regulating commercial surrogacy, the government was in a sense facilitating the process for those in the business of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) as well as perpetuating stereotypical notions surrounding fertility, motherhood and, maybe, eugenics.

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