Surrogacy has hit the headlines again, with India apparently in the process of prohibiting foreign couples engaging in surrogacy there. With hundreds of UK parents travelling to India for surrogacy each year, this will be a significant blow.
Surrogacy laws have already been tightened significantly in India in recent years, restricting the required medical visa (permitting travel to India for the purpose of surrogacy) to heterosexual couples who have been married for at least 2 years. However, it appears that surrogacy in India may now be coming to an end for foreign married couples too.
What is actually happening is complicated. The draft Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill (most recent version here) states that surrogacy in India should be restricted to individuals with a link to India (i.e. overseas citizens of India, people of Indian origin, non-resident Indians and foreigners married to an Indian citizen), and that commercial surrogacy should be prohibited. The Bill has not been passed by the Indian Parliament, but in late October 2015 a petition was made to the Indian Supreme Court raising concerns about the apparent lack of regulation of surrogacy in India, and the Indian government responded as follows:
“The government does not support commercial surrogacy and also the scope of surrogacy is limited to Indian married infertile couples only and not to the foreigners.”
Following this statement, the Indian government wrote to all Indian fertility clinics advising that they do not transfer any more embryos to surrogates for foreign couples while next steps are undertaken. In practice, this has suspended surrogacy practice in India for couples from the UK, although those with pregnant surrogates are not immediately affected. What the Indian court or government will do next is unclear- we will need to wait for the Supreme Court’s judgment and further statements from the government as to what, if any, action they intend to take.
If surrogacy in India is permanently restricted to those with the requisite connection to India, this will mean that one of the most popular surrogacy destinations will no longer be available for the majority of UK citizens. There is a risk that a black market will emerge or that more people will be driven to newer destinations, with even less security and support available to them.
The current uncertain position in India, and the change in the law in other countries such as Thailand, highlight the need for the UK to reconsider its position in relation to surrogacy. At NGA, we are pushing for legal reform in the UK, which will enable intended parents and surrogates to enter into responsible surrogacy arrangements in the UK (rather than abroad), and be protected and supported from the outset. For more information about our campaign work alongside Brilliant Beginnings, click here, and to listen to Helen discussing these issues on BBC Newshour last Thursday, click here.
If you are affected by this and would like advice about your situation, you can contact us on 0203 7015 915.
What can you do?
We know that many of our clients are very concerned about the changes proposed, particularly those who have created embryos or are already committed to the process in India. We have been given the following information about what you can do to support those campaigning to stop an immediate and outright ban:
The Government of India wants to ban on foreigners travelling to India for Surrogacy. We are currently campaigning to STOP the ban coming in to force. If changes are needed to the current system, we are calling for tighter regulations so that all surrogacy practices operate to a satisfactory and uniform standard thereby protecting all parties concerned. An outright ban is simply NOT the answer.
Here is how you can join the campaign to STOP the ban on Surrogacy for foreigners in India
1. Sign our I-petition.
2. Write to the Prime Minister of India (use the grievance category legal matters)
3. Forward this email to your friends, family and colleagues, asking for their support
4. Share the links on Facebook, Twitter, any social media you can.Tags: Brilliant Beginnings, change in surrogacy law in India, commercial surrogacy, fertility law, fertility lawyer, Helen Prosser, India, Indian Supreme Court, Indian surrogacy law, international surrogacy, international surrogacy law, Melissa Elsworth, surrogacy campaigning, surrogacy law, surrogacy lawyer, surrogacy solicitor