India plans regulations for surrogate motherhood

June 25th, 2008 - 10:50 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 25 (IANS) Concerned with an increasing number of foreigners coming to India to rent a womb, the government is planning to come out with regulations to ensure legal and medical rights to surrogate mothers and children born to them. “We have seen that couples fly to India, persuade a woman here to rent out her womb for money and then they happily take the child to their country. How do they get the child’s passport?” an agitated Women and Child Development Minister Renuka Chowdhury told reporters here Wednesday.

Chairing a meeting of experts, NGOs and health officers, Chowdhury said there are no laws in this regard. “It is free for all. We have no figures. What happens if a surrogate mother dies during child birth? What if she has multiple births?”

“We want to know if the couples’ need is genuine or not, or it is to sell these children for organs or trafficking,” she asked.

Chowdhury said the government was working on legislation on the newly developing trend. “We plan to seriously work on this and will come out with it by next year.”

As of now, there is no law on surrogacy in India. There are certain guidelines issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on surrogacy and Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART), she said.

For experts, the major concern is the number of young girls opting for surrogacy, which is also affecting the Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR). Thus, issues like the minimum age limit and health conditions that need to be considered will come up for discussion.

“There is a free and grey market here. The women here rent out their wombs for economic reasons. The right age for women to do so is 24 to 45,” the minister said.

Ministry officials have already spoken to their counterparts in the law and home ministries who have given their consent to addressing the issue.

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