NEW DELHI, India, August 30, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — India is bucking the culture by limiting surrogacy to established married couples.
Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj announced Wednesday that the Indian government is planning to make “commercial surrogacy” illegal by disallowing homosexuals from using an Indian citizen as a surrogate mother to birth a child for them. Single parents will also be barred from the practice of surrogacy. Additionally, to guard against poor Indian women being exploited, foreigners will be banned from using an Indian surrogate mother.
The proposed new law would allow surrogates only for heterosexual couples married at least five years who can't have a baby on their own. The surrogate also must be a relative, Swaraj explained, calling the allowed practice “altruistic surrogacy.”
The foreign minister explained, “There will be a complete ban on commercial surrogacy. Childless couples, who are medically unfit to have children, can take help from a close relative, in what is an altruistic surrogacy.''
A bill delineating the surrogacy limitations is soon to be introduced to Indian legislators. To become law in the nation, it must pass both houses of Parliament.
The proposed law is designed to stop the exploitation of poverty-stricken Indian women. Because of the lower cost, people around the world have used poor women desperate for food as surrogates, since the largely unregulated practice was legalized in India in 2001. Proponents of the law say India has become the “Surrogacy Hub” of the world.
The United Nations estimated India's surrogacy industry grossed about $1 billion annually. Despite the lucrative business, the Indian surrogate mothers are paid very little. The real profiteers are the country's 3,000 surrogacy clinics and clinic owners.
Most family advocates oppose the practice of surrogate motherhood, which not only routinely discards conceived humans fertilized in vitro but implants many “conceptuses” in the hopes that one or more will live — and then aborts the rest.
Additionally, if the “commissioning parents” aren't satisfied for any reason, such as a fetal handicap — or because they changed their mind — they can require the surrogate mother abort the baby or babies.
Dr. Jennifer Morse of the Ruth Institute says the practice of surrogacy objectifies women in that “the gestational mother is used for her womb, and then is legally — and perhaps emotionally — set aside.” Dr. Morse pointed out that “the woman who carried the child for nine months has no legally recognized parental rights,” and “mothers who agree to place a child for adoption can almost always change their minds after the baby has been placed in their arms. Denying gestational mothers the same right is, quite simply, inhuman.”
The fact is, “infants attach to their mothers in the womb,” the Ruth Institute president said, rhetorically questioning the negative impact of severing that first, most intimate bond. She also noted that statistically “babies conceived through in-vitro fertilization are at risk for premature birth, low birth weight, cerebral palsy, and other problems.”
Dr. Morse observed that human reproduction was designed to be intimate and love-centered, not a commercial contract between strangers. “Surrogacy drags the law into baby-making, an arena that ordinarily takes place in the most private and intimate realm of love,” she said. “Removing the sperm and egg from the body places those gametes in the realm of commerce and law.”
“Surrogacy may involve as many as five separate individuals: egg donor, sperm donor, gestational carrier and one or more “commissioning parents.” The law must decide which of the adults shall be the legal parents of the child.”
Surrogacy creates “a market in human beings,” Dr. Morse concluded. “Allowing some people to buy other people, even if they are really young and small, is not a pro-liberty policy.”
Gay activists criticized the proposed surrogacy ban, saying it is unfair to homosexuals who want to own and raise a child. Bill supporters say not only does the bill cut down on the exploitation of women, it helps children in that young ones need both a mother and a father.
Offended after being left out of the legislative process, many Indian doctors are critical of the bill. Surrogate enablers Dr. Nayna Patel and Dr. Aniruddha Malpani complained that, among other negative factors, “the nation will miss out on medical tourism.”
Medical ethicist Dr. Anant Bhan told the Times of India, “[T]he blanket statement that only people from the immediate family can be surrogates or people who are not unmarried or are 'homosexual' cannot, suggests that we are making a value judgment. This seems unacceptable in today's age.”