Home > Uncategorized > The Age – "Warning to couples on Indian surrogacy laws" by Matt Wade

The Age – "Warning to couples on Indian surrogacy laws" by Matt Wade

LAWYERS and doctors involved in India’s giant fertility industry have warned couples hoping to pursue surrogacy in India that the process is risky because there is no comprehensive law covering the practice.

While surrogacy is legal in India, it is regulated only by guidelines issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research, and many industry participants say these guidelines have been left behind by the rapidly expanding surrogacy industry.

The Age reported on Saturday that about 30 Australian couples were pursuing surrogacy in India. A new Indian surrogacy law is being drafted but those involved say it may not be passed for some time.

Priya Hingorani, a prominent Delhi lawyer who is part of a ministerial committee reviewing the proposed laws, says the absence of a law means couples wanting to use surrogates in India might be vulnerable.

“They are taking a risk because some of the documents that they sign ensuring that the mother will hand over the child might not be deemed legal by the courts,” Ms Hingorani said. “They need to be very careful.”

She cites the case of a Canadian couple who paid for an Indian surrogate but the mother refused to give up the child after the birth. The case is now before a Delhi court.

Anand Kumar, who runs a fertility clinic and is a member of the expert committee drafting the new law, said tighter regulations were urgently needed.

“It’s a bit of a free-for-all at the moment and everyone seems to be doing what they wish,” Dr Kumar said.

“There is a possibility of new technologies being misused and there is cause for concern.” He could not say when the proposed law would be passed.

Many women’s groups in India have expressed concern about the surrogacy system, saying it leaves mothers and babies vulnerable to exploitation.

Ms Hingorani said it was possible the new law could introduce restrictions that might affect foreigners hoping to use surrogate mothers in India.

“I think it is going to be more difficult (after the law is passed),” she said.

India’s booming surrogacy industry is estimated to be worth more than $500 million a year.

According to the National Commission for Women, there are about 3000 clinics offering surrogacy services across India.

There were cases where surrogate mothers received as little as 25,000 rupees ($A780), the commission said.

Some of the potential complications associated with international surrogacy were highlighted last year by the case of Baby Manji, a child born to an Indian surrogate mother hired by a Japanese couple.

The couple divorced during the pregnancy and a subsequent legal wrangle left the baby in limbo for more than a month. An Indian court eventually granted custody to the child’s 74-year-old grandmother.

In Australia, the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General is reviewing surrogacy regulations, including the issue of Australian couples pursuing surrogacy in developing countries such as India.

[Link: Original Article]

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