India to ban surrogacy services for foreigners

2015-10-28 20:35
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New Delhi - The Indian government on Wednesday said it would ban foreign couples from using surrogate mothers to have children, targeting a rapidly growing industry.

An affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court by the government's top law officer, Ranjit Kumar, said surrogacy would still be available to Indian couples who can't have children.

"The government does not support commercial surrogacy and also the scope of surrogacy is limited to Indian married infertile couples and not to the foreigners," the affidavit said.

The government response came on a petition that said the unregulated surrogacy industry was exploiting "poor and illiterate" Indian women and plead the court to declare it illegal.

The affidavit said the government is drafting a law to regulate surrogacy. The draft bill has been sent to state governments for consideration.

"It [the government] is in the process of bringing a comprehensive legal framework for not only protecting the rights of surrogate mother, but also for prohibiting and penalising commercial surrogacy," it said.

India is called the "surrogacy capital" of the world, where thousands of childless couples, including many from foreign countries, hire the wombs of local women to carry their embryos.

The surrogacy business in India is estimated at more than $400m a year. 

The Times of India newspaper said curtailing surrogacy was ill-considered. Both the would-be mothers unable to bear children and poor women offering their wombs as surrogates gained from the industry.

"Such arrangements should be allowed to continue, therefore, with proper checks and regulation in place to ensure that there is no exploitation of the poor in the process. Banning them benefits no one and certainly hurts some," it said.

In the affidavit, the government also said the import of the embryo for commercial surrogacy should be banned except for research purposes. A penalty on couples refusing to take custody of a surrogate child born with disabilities has also been proposed.

Read more on:    india

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