India cracks down on surrogacy

Is India finally cracking down on surrogacy for  foreigners? The blogosphere is abuzz with news of stiff new regulations. Only heterosexual couples who have been married for more than two years will be able to hire surrogate mothers.

Surrogacy must be legal in their home country and they must have a medical visa, not a tourist visa. They have to produce proof from their own embassy that the child will be accepted as their biological child when they return. Only authorised IVF clinics will be able to employ surrogates for foreigners. And gay couples, married or not, are not eligible because gay marriage is not recognised in India.

According to a memo from the Deputy Commissioner of Police in Mumbai, the India’s Ministry of Home Affairs, the police will be liable if a foreigner violates these restrictions. Violations could land the parents in jail.

According to Australian surrogacy lawyer Stephen Page, the restrictions are already having an effect. He told ABC News that most Australians who have engaged surrogate mothers in India were de facto couples, singles, or gay couples. Mr Page says the majority of people who went to India before the law was changed were not married. "I believe instead of about 200 children a year being born to Australian-intended parents a year, it will be down to five or 10," he said.

The regulations have not been widely publicised, but they follow surrogacy scandals which have made headlines in India. Commissioning parents from countries like Ireland, Germany, Norway and Iceland found that their new children were stateless and that they were stranded and tangled in a bureaucratic nightmare. 

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