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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

‘Couples in late 50s may be barred from surrogacy’

MUMBAI: The much anticipated Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Bill, 2014, is said to have specified an upper age-limit for couples wanting to commission surrogacy in India. Likely to be tabled in the winter session of Parliament, the Bill, sources say, specifies that a couple has to be in their early 50s to have a child through a surrogate.

The existing Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) guidelines do not say anything about an age limit for commissioning couples, leaving it to discretion of individual clinics or doctors. In the past, there have been controversies in the country and abroad with couples in their sixties and even early 70s commissioning surrogacy. "It is important to ensure that the parents are agile enough in the child's growing up years," said Dr Nandita Palshetkar, an invitro-fertilization (IVF) expert. She added that leading clinics in the city anyway maintain a cut-off of 45 to 50 years.

The ART Bill to regulate the IVF industry, including surrogacy, has been in news for a plethora of regulations. Discussions about some drastic regulations have been rife. "There were strong recommendations to disallow single parents and same-sex couple commission surrogacy in India," said a Union health ministry source. The Bill also specifies that a surrogate has to be between the age of 21 to 35 years.

The medical fraternity is worried if all social aspects will be taken into consideration. "What if a single woman in her 30s wants to adopt a child? The law should allow her that freedom," said Dr Reshma Pai, vice-president, Indian Society of Assisted Reproduction.

IVF expert Dr Pushpa Bhargava, credited with creating the first IVF bill in 2000, said anyone who is eligible to adopt a child should be allowed to have one through surrogacy. "It will also be unfair to not allow same-sex couples or single parents from having a child through a surrogate," he said.


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