Ending commercial surrogacy will not be possible without regulating ART clinics
It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that surrogacy needs to be regulated by law. There is no argument about whether an issue such as surrogacy fraught with bioethical issues aplenty requires regulation: it does. The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019, should have come a long time ago. Regulations in the past in the area of child adoption and transplantation of human organs have, historically, borne fruit, effectively putting an end to rampant commercial transactions, and providing a structure by which any excursions outside of the law may be shut down. Flagrant violations of human rights have been witnessed repeatedly in the ‘baby-making factory’ in India, the underprivileged woman often in the cross hairs, and at the bottom of the pile. The plethora of unregulated assisted reproductive techniques (ART) clinics that mushroomed, coinciding with India becoming a global health-care destination, ensured that there was a good volume of traffic toward the country, besides growing domestic demand for surrogacy services. In this context, there is expectation that the Surrogacy Bill will regulate commercial surrogacy, while allowing an altruistic form of it to continue, by putting in place strict supervisory and regulatory frameworks. The question here is whether the Bill, recently passed by the Lok Sabha, will serve the wholesome purpose of regulating the vastly complex area of surrogacy, while sensitively balancing the needs of ‘intending parents’ and surrogates.