Lockdown stops couples who took a surrogate route to parenthood from holding newborns.
For the last 12 years, Sheeba* and her husband have been trying to have a baby. Their dream came true last month when she had a baby through surrogacy, but life has been more agonising for the couple. The couple is among the many who are unable to see their babies delivered by surrogate mothers since the country went into lockdown on March 24. In India, 5,000 to 10,000 babies are born through surrogacy every year.
“They had come down from Dubai to Kanyakumari and planned to come to Chennai a few days before the delivery,” says Dr Geetha Haripriya, fertility expert and chairperson of Prashanth Hospital. The surrogate was due to deliver by March-end. “Sheeba’s mother fell ill and the surrogate went into labour on March 17. By the time Sheeba’s mother recovered, the lockdown was announced. We’ve sent them photographs of the baby. We give them daily updates about the baby’s health,” said the doctor.
Dr. Shivani Sachdev Gour
, fertility expert and founder-director of SCI IVF Hospital in New Delhi, says that four babies were born through surrogacy at the centre in the past two weeks. “While two couples were able to come and get the children as they live in Delhi, two others have not yet seen their babies,” says Dr Sachdev. “One of the couples is from UP and have had a girl after trying for 14 years. The other, from Rajasthan, has had a boy. Though we gave them letters from the hospital, they are unable to come as the areas they live in have been sealed off.”
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The Cabinet informed that the government had accepted all recommendations made by the Rajya Sabha Select Committee, which studied an earlier version of the draft legislation that aims at banning commercial surrogacy and allowing only altruistic surrogacy in India.
The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved recommendations made by the Select Committee on Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2020, to allow any “willing woman” to act as a surrogate instead of “near relative” as proposed earlier.
As per the revised bill, widows and divorcees will also be allowed to opt for surrogacy.
The proposed insurance cover for surrogate mothers has now been increased to 36 months from 16 months provided in the earlier draft.
“While it is a good step to omit near relative clause for a surrogate, it doesn’t help to not include monetary compensation for the surrogate because not many women would be interested in carrying someone’s child without being paid for it…,” Delhi-based IVF specialist, Dr Shivani Sachdev Gour, said.
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