The Indian government has said, on 28 October, that it plans to ban commercial surrogacy for foreigners, a move that is likely to hit the industry hard.
“Foreigners cannot avail surrogacy services in the country,” said the Supreme Court, adding that surrogacy would be available “only for Indian couples”.
A penalty on couples refusing to take custody of a surrogate child born with disabilities has also been proposed.
While hearing a petition regarding the industry, “The government doesn’t support commercial surrogacy,” the government said, in an affidavit to the Supreme Court.
Thousands of infertile couples, mostly from abroad, hire wombs of local women to carry their embryos, through to birth.
Debate has been growing whether the business exploits poor women, thereby prompting a petition to the Supreme Court for action.
Earlier, the court, expressing concern, had directed the government to spell out measures for regulating the industry. It said this while a petition seeks to halt the importation of human embryos for commercial purposes.
India, with cheap technology, skilled doctors and a steady supply of surrogates, is one of the countries where women are paid to carry another’s child through to birth.
The government, in its affidavit presented to the court by solicitor general Ranjit Kumar, said that, it would “require sometime to bring the law in place”.
Until then, “the government will prohibit and penalise commercial surrogacy services,” it said.