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Abstract

Assisted Reproductive technologies (ARTs) like In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and surrogacy have made aspirations of parenthood come true for many. With quality medical services, low costs and an indifferent regulatory regime, the surrogacy industry, particularly of the commercial and trans-border variety, has boomed in India so much so that India had once been termed as the ‘baby factory’ of the world. Through successive administrative measures the government of India has tried to regulate surrogacy with a view to prevent exploitation of women. At least two comprehensive bills to regulate various aspects of surrogacy arrangements have been tabled in the Parliament, viz: The Assisted Reproductive Technologies Bill -2008 and the Surrogacy Regulation (2016) Bill, both of which did not see light of the day. The Government’s initiative to table a new bill on this subject is a welcome move. The Surrogacy Regulation (2019) Bill brings clarity on the rights of stakeholders in surrogacy arrangements and seeks to protect the vulnerable. This is an opportune time for a comprehensive discussion on all aspects related to surrogacy arrangements in India so that the legislation becomes an effective tool for social progress. In particular, considerable thought is needed on pressing issues arising out of the provisions of this bill, such as the possibility of a flourishing grey market in cases where commercial surrogacy is completely banned and the possibility of soft coercion of women by relatives, against their own choices, for altruistic surrogacy by matrimonial families. The rights of the child in cases of arrangements in contravention with the proposed law also need deliberation. This paper discusses the lacunae in the bill on the above aspects taking into consideration the Indian experience and that of the world and attempts to propose possible alternatives that may be adopted for a more meaningful and just legislation.

Note on the Author

Astha Srivastava is Assistant Professor at ICFAI Law School, Hyderabad—India and teaches Personal Law, Law and Social Transformation, Constitutional Law and International Environmental Law. Her research interests include subjects affecting women, especially the improvement of judicial response to legislative and other measures.

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