Why were surrogacy rules modified?

Why were surrogacy rules modified?

Context:

The Union government modified the Surrogacy (Regulation) Rules, 2022, allowing married couples to use donor eggs or sperm for surrogacy.

Relevance:

GS – 02 (Government Policies & Interventions, Social Empowerment)

Prelims:

Surrogacy Law, Surrogacy (Regulation) Act 2021, Altruistic surrogacy, Commercial Surrogacy, Article 21 of the constitution.

Mains Question:

Critically analyze the recent amendment to the Surrogacy (Regulation) Rules, 2022, with a focus on its implications for reproductive rights, inclusivity, and legal challenges. (250 words)

Key Highlights:

  • The amendment aims to provide relief to couples facing medical complications hindering conception.
  • However, the modification excludes married couples where both partners require donor gametes and remains inapplicable to widowed or divorced women.
  • The Supreme Court intervened in response to a petition challenging the 2023 amendment, highlighting its contradiction with the Surrogacy Act, 2021.
  • The Court emphasized a woman’s right to parenthood and recognized the need for gestational surrogacy in cases of medical or congenital conditions.
  • The regulatory change does not extend to single women, sparking concerns about discrimination and violation of fundamental rights.

Dimensions of the Article:

  • Amendment to Surrogacy Rules
  • Exclusionary Provisions and Legal Challenges
  • Judicial Intervention and Recognition of Rights
  • Concerns Regarding Discrimination

Amendment to Surrogacy Rules:

  • The recent modification to the Surrogacy (Regulation) Rules, 2022, permits married couples to utilize donor eggs or sperm for surrogacy, reversing the ban imposed in March 2023.
  • This adjustment aims to address the challenges faced by couples encountering medical obstacles to conception, providing them with alternative options to achieve parenthood.

Exclusionary Provisions and Legal Challenges:

  • Despite the amendment, certain limitations persist within the regulatory framework. The requirement for at least one gamete from the intending parents poses a hurdle for couples where both partners necessitate donor gametes.
  • Moreover, the exclusion of widowed or divorced women from availing donor gametes raises questions about inclusivity and equitable access to assisted reproductive technologies.

Judicial Intervention and Recognition of Rights:

  • The Supreme Court intervened following a petition challenging the 2023 amendment, emphasizing fundamental rights and the objectives of the Surrogacy Act, 2021.
  • The Court underscored a woman’s right to parenthood and acknowledged the necessity of gestational surrogacy in cases of medical or congenital conditions inhibiting pregnancy.
  • Additionally, the Court critiqued the exclusionary nature of the amendment, highlighting its contradiction with existing legal provisions.

Concerns Regarding Discrimination:

  • The regulatory change fails to address the concerns of single women seeking access to surrogacy.
  • The exclusion of single individuals, live-in couples, and LGBTQ couples from utilizing assisted reproductive technologies has sparked debates about discrimination and constitutional rights.
  • Legal challenges contesting the association of marital status with surrogacy eligibility highlight the need for a more inclusive and rights-based approach.

Way Forward:

  • The modification of the Surrogacy (Regulation) Rules, 2022, represents a step towards accommodating the needs of couples facing infertility issues. However, the persistence of exclusionary provisions and legal challenges underscores the necessity for a comprehensive and rights-based approach to assisted reproductive technologies.
  • Policymakers must strive to ensure equitable access to surrogacy for all individuals, irrespective of marital status or gender identity, while upholding fundamental rights and principles of inclusivity.