Clamping down on the ‘rent-a-womb’ practice by foreigners and overseas Indians, the government on Tuesday directed all its missions not to issue visas to those intending to visit India for commissioning surrogacy. Announcing withdrawal of an earlier notification of July 2012, a Home Ministry circular has asked all Indian Missions abroad and Foreigners Regional Registration Offices (FRRO) to cancel any such permission given earlier and said all those granted visa for this should be “informed of the position immediately”.
“No exit permission should be granted by FRRO to the child to be born through surrogacy to foreign nationals including OCI cardholders. “However, for child or children born through surrogacy already commissioned on or before issue of this circular, exit permission will be decided by FRRO on case to case basis,” the notification said. In an affidavit to the Supreme Court late last month, the government had said it would henceforth “prohibit and penalise commercial surrogacy services” to protect the “dignity of Indian womanhood”, and to prevent “trafficking in human beings” and the “sale of surrogate child”. Only infertile Indian couples would be able to opt for surrogacy of the altruistic kind. Commercial surrogacy is often termed as ‘rent-a-womb’ industry and India has emerged as a popular destination for childless foreign couples seeking a baby through surrogacy with poor women ready to play surrogate mothers.
The UPA government had in 2012 opened the doors to foreigners for carrying out surrogacy in India after fulfilling some conditions which included clearing all liabilities towards the Indian surrogate mother.