Recently released film, Mimi evokes a debate about surrogacy laws and related laws in India. Let us find out
In the past few years, we can see a trend of surrogacy, especially in Bollywood. Many renowned Bollywood couples and bachelors have chosen the way of surrogacy to become parents. This includes stars like Shilpa Shetty and Raj Kundra, Sharukh Khan and Gauri, Ekta Kapoor, Karan Johar, and many more.
Recently released film, Mimi also evokes debate about surrogacy and related laws in India. This film is considered a good attempt to destigmatize the stigma related to the process.
Mimi’s story revolves around a young girl who agrees to commercial surrogacy due to her circumstances. Later the intended parents refuse to have the baby. Pankaj Tripathi, who is acting as a broker between the intended parents and Mimi, agrees to become the father of the unborn child. Some people see this plot problematic as it is about commercial surrogacy which is banned in India.
This appears to be a noble cause but there were several crucial cases where surrogacy was used for commercial purposes and the surrogate baby and women were commodified.
India is becoming a very big market for the surrogacy process. Many ladies who are facing financial issues easily agree to lend their womb and charge heavily in return. This practice had attracted many foreigners to India and a way to become parents resulting in overuse of the process.
But there are certain laws in India related to it that need to be considered.
1.Legalization of commercial surrogacy
In 2002, commercial surrogacy was legalized in India. Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) issued guidelines related to surrogacy without any legislative backing. Commercial surrogacy means when the surrogate mother is compensated much beyond the medical expenses. Altruistic surrogacy is its opposite where the mother voluntarily carries the pregnancy without any intention to receive monetary grants from intended parents.
2.Bills related to surrogacy regulation
The first surrogacy bill was formed in 2008 which is known as The Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill followed by the revised bill in 2010 and 2013. Efforts were made to pass ART Bill, 2014 which includes few suggestions:
Prohibition of sex-selective surrogacy.
Birth certificate of surrogate baby with names of commissioning parent(s) only.
In the case of abortion, the medical termination of pregnancy act, 1971 to be considered.
Right to privacy of donor and surrogate mother
An insurance cover for surrogate mother
But this bill was not finalized either.
In 2015, it led to a ban on commercial surrogacy in India as an impact of Landmark case Baby Manji Yamada v. Union of India in 2008.
In 2016, the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill was introduced and passed in Lok Sabha which sought to confine it to altruistic, non-commercial, and performed by a ‘close relative’. This bill permitted heterosexual Indian married couples with infertility problems.
The most recent bill on surrogacy is The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019 which was introduced in Lok Sabha on 15 July 2019.
As per the bill, a surrogacy child will be deemed to be the biological child of the intended couple. Abortion requires written consent from authorized authorities and surrogate mothers. The termination process will take place under the provisions of The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971.
Also Read: DeshBhakti Budget: Is it worth it?
Why is it stigmatized in our country?
Surrogacy stigma is more an ethical controversy than a legal one. In India surrogacy is misunderstood and maligned. A woman is said to be complete only when she can produce a child. It is also said that it would bring a negative impact on the surrogate child when they will know the truth of his birth.
Another debate that accompanies it is the exploitation of the surrogate mother. In many remote areas, a mother womb is marketed, advertised, and sold like a commodity which is again ethically questionable.
In such a case it could lead to a penalty of Rs 10 lakh with 10 years of imprisonment.