New Delhi: On the third day of the Winter Session of the Parliament, Rajya Sabha members on Wednesday sought changes in certain provisions of the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill 2019 which was recently passed in Lok Sabha. The Bill states that only a close relative can be a surrogate mother and provisions of five years of marriage for commissioning parents.

Though the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill 2019, during the debate hour, was supported by most members in the House cutting across the party line, still modifications were sought by some members in certain provisions such as time frame for abortion, time limit of age and prior informed consent, among others.

Yet some of the members present in the House sought provisions for allowances and insurance along with maternity leave for the surrogate mother, besides relaxation in numbers of surrogacy.

Introduced in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday by Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill 2019, was passed by the Lok Sabha in the Monsoon Session.

The Bill that was passed in the Lok Sabha seeks to prohibit exploitation of surrogate mothers and children born through surrogacy and allows ‘ethical surrogacy’ to the needy infertile Indian couples.

The Bill also allows surrogacy for couples who suffer from proven infertility and says they should have a ‘certificate of essentiality’ and a ‘certificate of eligibility’ issued by the appropriate authorities.

Debating other the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill 2019, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said that it was a ‘very complicated bill’ and the government should get an amended bill passed after considering the suggestions of the members.

“It is a very complicated bill. We all agree that surrogacy should be regulated but in what form, it is still debated,” Ramesh said.

He also said that the bill should have come after the Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) bill as the government is dealing with surrogacy but not dealing with the technology of surrogacy.

Talking further on the topic, DMK leader P Wilson said the bill has provisions for permission for abortion within 90 days, but sometimes there are cases of a medical emergency, and the surrogate mothers cannot wait for such a period. “There should be the provision of post-approval as well,” he added.

“The bill also has the provision of 10 years of punishment with a non-bailable warrant in case of violation. This is not a heinous crime,” he further stated in Rajya Sabha.

Speaking in favour of the Bill, YSRCP MP V Vijaysai Reddy sought clarity as to which close relatives of the couple opting for surrogacy could be considered for the procedure under the provisions of the bill.

RJD MP Manoj Kumar Jha during the debate hour pointed out that the bill was silent on same-sex couples and people who were in live-in relationships.

Aam Aadmi Party’s Sushil Kumar Gupta highlighted that the bill has been brought to stop the exploitation of surrogate mothers, but in the current form would end up exploiting them more.

(With inputs from ANI, PTI)