(Image source from: Christianity Today)
The Lok Sabha on Wednesday has passed a bill barring commercial surrogacy and allowing the process only by close relatives for "altruistic" reasons, with Health Minister J P Nadda terming the proposed legislation historic.
The surrogacy (regulation) bill was passed after an hour-long exchange of views amid noisy protests by Congress and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) members over various issues.
He said different sections of society, political parties, the Supreme Court and the Law Commission have spoken against commercial surrogacy and that the bill addresses these concerns.
India had turned into a center of commercial surrogacy and surrogate mothers also suffered from exploitation, he told the House.
Though Members of different parties who spoke during the debate supported the bill, some including Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar of the Trinamool Congress and Supriya Sule (NCP) urged the government to expand its scope.
It is a good bill but not modern enough, Sule said.
Dastidar said same-sex couples should also be allowed to have a child through surrogacy.
She also called for stopping "fashion surrogacy", saying some celebrities go for it as they do not want their figures "destroyed".
BJD's Bhartruhari Mahtab said surrogacy industry had been thriving due to the regulatory gap. He asked the government to define who close relatives can be.
Nadda said the aim of the bill was to stop commercial surrogacy but at the same time save families by allowing them to have children by using modern science.
Only defined mother and family can avail of surrogacy and the same was not permitted for live-in partners or single parents, he said.
The rules and regulations of the law will define close relatives, he added. The bill also has penal provision for misuse of surrogacy.