ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Rethinking the Surrogacy Bill

The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016, introduced ostensibly to provide a legal framework for surrogacy in India, is a regressive legislation that seeks to control women’s bodies and reinforces heteronormative notions of what a family is. By limiting surrogacy to “altruistic surrogacy” only, it creates space for women being pressured to bear children for family members. The Rajya Sabha standing committee’s report, having heard a wide cross section of society on this matter, has rightly criticised this bill and called for its redrafting.

As regressive legislations go, the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016 must surely rank with the worst of them. It is a bill that reinforces every patriarchal and paternalistic notion of what women can and cannot do with their bodies. Far from “regulating” (as the term is properly understood), it is a bill to control women’s bodies and what they choose to do with it.

Introduced in the Rajya Sabha on 21 November 2016 by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), it was not exactly received with much praise when it was first made public by the government (Gupta 2016). Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj had earlier defended the ban on commercial surrogacy and exclusion of homosexual and transgender persons from having a child through surrogacy in rather spiteful terms (Hindu 2016). Since then, it was referred to a standing committee of the Rajya Sabha, which released its report on 10 August 2017 ripping this bill to shreds (Rajya Sabha 2017).

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Updated On : 24th Aug, 2017
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