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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Maharashtra becomes 1st state to draft surrogacy guidelines

In a first, Maharashtra has got its own set of guidelines to regulate surrogacy in the state. A twomember team comprising top gynaecologists, appointed by the Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC), has formulated state-specific surrogacy guidelines and the draft was submitted to the council for scrutiny last week.

The team comprises eminent gynaecologist Dr Sanjay Gupte from Pune and gynaecologist Dr Bipin Pandit from Mumbai. The decision to form the guidelines was triggered in April, after the Foreign Regional Registration Office (FRRO) pulled up city's top three surrogacy clinics for flouting visa norms related to couples seeking surrogacy.

MMC has also planned to appoint a state-level committee as a watchdog and convert these guidelines into regulations so that action can be initiated against those flouting the norms.

"The guidelines cover all stakeholders in the process of surrogacy- mainly the surrogate, the couple commissioning the procedure and the doctor," said MMC president Dr Kishore Taori, adding that the draft has been passed, barring a few minor changes.

Surrogacy has continued to be in a grey zone with only a set of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) guidelines formulated in 2005. The Surrogacy Bill is in its final stages but pending in the parliament. Most doctors do not follow the ICMR guidelines properly due to absence of a watchdog.

Therefore, Dr Gupte and Dr Pandit have called for a watchdog committee, consisting of two MMC members, two representatives from the Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) centres, arepresentative from the ART bank and arepresentative from an NGO.

"Besides, the couple commissioning the surrogacy should be married for at least two years, should have an authorisation from a doctor confirming fertility issues and a letter from the embassy stating that the baby will get a passport. The couple should be in the country on a medical visa," the guidelines stated.

According to Dr Pandit, surrogates mostly come from a poor background and their exploitation is common. The new set of guidelines states that a surrogate cannot rent her womb for more than three times, has to be between 21-45 years of age and the responsibility to certify that her womb is capable of child bearing rests on the ART centre. The guidelines also allow a relative of the couple to be a surrogate and make it mandatory for the couple to appoint a local guardian to take care of the surrogate.


♦ Mumbai has maximum number of surrogacy clinics in the country

♦ Couples from English-speaking countries such as the US, UK and Australia, form the largest chunk of the clientele.

♦ A couple has to shell anywhere between Rs 12-15 lakh for the procedure

♦ Well-known clinics in Mumbai take more than 100 surrogacy cases per year


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