Petitioners in the Delhi High Court questioned why marital status, age, or gender were the criteria for being allowed to commission or not commission surrogacy in India.
- As per the Surrogacy Act that kicked in from January this year, a married couple can opt for surrogacy only on medical grounds.
- The law defines a couple as a married Indian “man and woman” and also prescribes an age-criteria with the woman being in the age group of 23 to 50 years and the man between 26 to 55 years.
- Additionally, the couple should not have a child of their own.
- Though the law allows single women to resort to surrogacy, she should either be a widow or a divorcee, between the age of 35 to 45 years. Single men are however, not eligible.
Overview of the Surrogacy Act, 2021:
- It came into effect in January this year.
- It allows ‘altruistic surrogacy’ — wherein only the medical expenses and insurance coverage is provided by the couple to the surrogate mother during pregnancy.
- Creates a national board to lay down and implement a code of conduct for people working at IVF clinics.
- It intends to make genetic testing of the embryo mandatory before implantation for the benefit of the child born through ART.
- It also seeks to streamline the cryo-preservation processes for sperm, oocytes and embryos.
- It also proposes to constitute a national registry and registration authority to maintain a central database and assist the national board in its functioning.
Eligibility conditions to make use of the services of a surrogate mother:
- Any couple that has ‘proven infertility’.
- The couple should be Indian citizens who have been married for at least five years.
- The female must be between 23 to 50 years and the male, 26 to 55 years.
- They cannot have any surviving children (biological, adopted or surrogate); However, this would not include a ‘child who is mentally or physically challenged or suffers from life threatening disorder or fatal illness.’
Only a close relative of the couple can be a surrogate mother, one who is able to provide a medical fitness certificate. She should have been married, with a child of her own, and must be between 25 and 35 years, but can be a surrogate mother only once.