No support for commercial surrogacy, Centre tells SC

New Delhi, Oct 28 (IANS) The Centre on Wednesday informed the Supreme Court that it was opposed to “commercial surrogacy” and was in the process of enacting a law to make it a punishable offence.

“The government does not support the commercial surrogacy and it would be limited to Indian married infertile couples only and not to foreigners,” the union government said in an affidavit.

The Centre told the court that only altruistic surrogacy to the needy infertile married Indian couple would be provided after their needs were assessed and found to be genuine.

The affidavit was filed after an apex court bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice N.V. Ramana earlier in the morning adjourned the hearing after taking exception to the government position being reported by the media even before the court heard of it.

The court directed the matter to be listed on November 24.

The court was also told that the government was in the process of bringing a comprehensive legal framework for not only protecting the rights of the surrogate mother but also for prohibiting and penalising commercial surrogacy.

The Centre said an appropriate state authority would be set up under the proposed Assisted Reproductive Techniques (Regulation) Bill, 2014, to ascertain the genuineness of the need of infertile married Indian couples to have children.

This was stated by Dr Soumya Swaminathan, secretary, department of health research, ministry of health and family welfare, in response to a number of questions raised by the court in its October 14 order.

The questions pertained to the government stand on commercial surrogacy, status of the surrogate mother, pain and sufferings of the surrogate mother for nine months, risk and psychological and emotional problems, and the mother of the surrogate child.

Responding to a question posed by the apex court, the central government said the “import of the human embryo is prohibited except for research purposes based on the guidelines of the department of health research”.

The Centre’s affidavit also said that provision would be incorporated in law to penalise the commissioning couples who failed to take the custody of a child with disabilities born from a surrogate mother.

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