MUMBAI: The Centre's bill prohibiting commercial surrogacy has evoked a mixed response, with some welcoming it while others raising doubts over its efficacy.
The Lok Sabha had last month passed the bill that bars commercial surrogacy and allows the process only by close relatives for 'altruistic' reasons.
Surrogacy refers to a contract whereby a woman carries a pregnancy and gives birth to a child for another person or another couple, who will ultimately be the baby's parent(s).
National Commission for Women's former member Nirmala Samant Prabhawalkar said the bill has been brought to regulate the "uncontrolled" practice of surrogacy, but it still has some "grey areas".
"There was massive exploitation which forced the regulation, but there is scope to improve the legislation further," she said.
Another Mumbai-based advocate Siddh Vidya said she was in favour of making the laws tough, but found the term 'altruistic' a bit unrealistic.
"Confrontation between the family going for surrogacy and the surrogate mother is inevitable even if the latter may not develop an emotional bond with the child," she said.
Vidya had earlier moved the Maharashtra State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, alleging that many big hospitals in Mumbai and doctors were minting money by facilitating surrogacy.
Union Health Minister J P Nadda had earlier said that under the law, only defined mother and family can avail of surrogacy and it was not permitted for live-in partners or single parents.
Dr Suruchi Desai, a gynaecologist at the Nanavati Super Speciality Hospital here, said the bill needs to clearly define who is a close relative and who can be a surrogate.
The legislation will hamper medical tourism in India, but at the same time reduce the exploitation of women who are forced to turn to surrogacy due to the financial crisis, she said.
Navi Mumbai-based chartered accountant Sunil Satghare, however, was sad as his son and daughter-in-law, settled in the US, wanted to have a child through surrogacy in India, but could not go for it after learning about the new legislation.
"It's ok to regulate rules and stop misuse of surrogacy. But, making it too stringent is not good for those who want to enjoy parenthood," he said.
City resident Shubhangi Bhostekar claimed to be a victim of surrogacy 'racket', but was now hopeful that the new rules will be followed "in letter and spirit".
"I have two daughters, still my husband managed to have a male child through surrogacy," she said, adding that she had last year filed a complaint against her spouse with the Mumbai Police and the child rights' commission.
A surrogate mother, who did not wish to be identified, said people from across globe come to India to have a baby because the women delivering children through this method here are "extremely cooperative and obey their agreement clauses".