Supermom of State, Sushma Swaraj, gifts India a sanskari Surrogacy Bill

Only married Indian citizen couples can opt for 'altruistic surrogacy', but not our singles, LGBTQ or those in live-in relationships.

 |  6-minute read |   24-08-2016
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This is altruism with a sanskari twist.

The Surrogacy Regulation Bill, 2016, which has been cleared by the Union Cabinet on Wednesday, August 24, for introduction in Parliament seeks to not only "prohibit commercial surrogacy" but also prevents single people, those from LGBTQ community and those in a live-in partnership from experiencing parenthood through surrogacy.

The ruse is, as expected, tradition as individuality-erasing talent.

The blanket ban on commercial surrogacy is obviously under the garb of "ethical surrogacy", in order to control and prevent exploitation of tribal and poor women of india, who are harnessed by rich but infertile foreigners for children.

Instead, Sushma Swaraj, who is the minister of external affairs, and not the minister for woman and child development (that is Maneka Gandhi, who has been strangely quiet on this crucial bill involving both women and children), announced after the meeting: "A draft bill which aims to safeguard the rights of surrogate mothers and make parentage of such children legal has been cleared by the Union Cabinet".

"This Bill will prohibit commercial surrogacy and allow ethical surrogacy to needy infertile couples," Sushma Swaraj said.

Exactly what she meant by "ethical surrogacy" hasn't been clarified yet, but as far as "altruistic surrogacy" is concerned, it's like a Karan Johar movie, that is all in the family.

Hitherto, the Bill was cleared by a group of ministers (GoM) - constituted at the behest of the Prime Minister’s Office - and was then referred to the Union Cabinet for a final call before being introduced in Parliament, has all the imprints of "Indian ethos" (read Hindu ethos), as Sushma Swaraj put it distinctly.

surrogacy-bill-2016-_082416053601.jpg Commercial surrogacy is banned under the new Bill, replaced by altruistic surrogacy within the family.

The GoM had luminaries such as Union health minister JP Nadda, commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman and food processing industries minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal.

While the Surrogacy Reguulation Bill, 2016, is the response to the prevalent problems and indeed exploitation of poor and tribal women for their wombs, the absence of a statutory mechanism is now set to be replaced by a possible law, currently in the draft Bill stage, which is draconian, to say the least.

Not only does it prohibit commercial surrogacy, thereby blocking out possible consensual livelihood options for some women, but it also restricts the ambit of surrogacy within India, only to married Indian heterosexual couples, ostensibly for the sake of transparency and legality.

Sushma Swaraj went one step further to indulge in some celebrity bashing, saying celebs who take to surrogacy despite having children or despite being unmarried, are indulging in "unethical practices".Swaraj lashed out at celebrities for opting for surrogacy saying it has become a trend.

“Big celebrities who not only have one but two children, a son and a daughter, even then they went ahead with surrogacy,” said the minister.

She said: "What was started for convenience has become a luxury today."

Evidently, this is to stop India from being the surrogacy hub for couples abroad, especially non-Indian, rich, white Euro-Americans, for whom India (and China) are one-stop surrogacy destination, leading to unethical medical practices during child-bearing.

surrogacybill2016sus_082416053611.jpg External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj has castigated the 'celebrity practice' of the surrogacy route to motherhood.

But the most exclusionary thrust of the Bill is its rampant bigotry and bias against unmarried, homosexual Indians, or those who are in live-in partnerships, choosing not to get married. Swaraj said, “You can say it is looking forward and we can say this doesn’t go with our ethos.”

Moreover, the wait for married couples would be at least five years, and even NRIs and OCIs will not be allowed to take the surrogacy route to parenthood.

Evidently, Twitter is panning the Bill in no uncertain terms.

Moreover, this is a heteronormative, casteist Bill is all about running in the family and protecting your genes in the garb of altruism.

It's completely biased against those with a different sexual orientation.

It's against those who choose to celebrate their freedom to stay outside the institution of marriage, or prefer a civic partnership over narrow socially-sanctioned togetherness.

This sanskari Surrogacy Bill should be shot down in Parliament. Hope sense will prevail over sanskar.

Writer

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