ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Regulating Reproductive Technologies

The Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, 2020 was tabled in the Lok Sabha in September 2020. It was referred to the department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare, which submitted its 129th report on the ART Bill, 2020 on 17 March 2021. This article critically engages with the recommendations of this report.

Dalit Feminist Voices on Reproductive Rights and Reproductive Justice

Previous research has addressed questions of reproductive justice and the stratifications of Indian women’s reproductive lives in terms of class position and economic status. However, the question of caste has received little attention in the literature and there has been a lack of research on assisted reproductive technologies and caste along with the absence of Dalit feminists speaking out on reproductive technologies. This paper attempts to begin exploring the significance of caste by drawing on in-depth interviews with Dalit feminists who challenge dominant understandings of surrogacy in both international and national debates on reproductive technologies. It highlights how an insistence on the wider socio-economic context of women’s lives challenges notions of reproductive rights, replacing them by reproductive justice.

Gamechanger or a Trojan Horse?

The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, a key legislation in India that enables women to transcend the public–private dichotomy and stake their claim for productive participation in the labour force, saw major amendments in 2017. Four aspects of the amendments—increased maternity leave, maternity leave for adoption and surrogacy, provision of crèche, and paternity leave—are juxtaposed with feminist and constitutional principles as well as ground-level realities and practices. An increase in maternity benefits in law with a neglect of paternity leave and benefits is a lopsided approach that further reinforces gendered division of labour and care work as the domain of women. The social responsibility of employers is emphasised, and a deeper engagement of the state with the policy of parental benefits is advocated.

In Search of Non-tangential Premises

The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016 marks a significant shift in the discourse on commercialisation of surrogacy. This article explores issues of altruism, repugnance, paternalism, marketability, exploitation, and assumptions of the moral inviolability of motherhood, with respect to surrogacy in India. It offers close perspectives on the ramifications of altruism in assisted reproduction based on field research and interviews conducted in the cities of Kolkata, Mumbai, Pune, Anand, and Howrah.

Surrogacy and the Laws on Maternity Benefits

Five high courts across India have uniformly held that women employees who have children through surrogacy would be entitled to maternity benefits in accordance with the rules. How they have arrived at this conclusion is quite different in each case, and each judgment presents different approaches to address this legal question. Beyond the legal question, the approaches must also be closely examined for class biases and paternalistic assumptions about motherhood.

Women at Risk in the Unregulated Surrogacy 'Industry'

In recent times India has become a haven for commercial surrogacy, a controversial assisted reproductive technology. Acute poverty means that there are always women ready to rent their wombs. But lack of laws and regulations means there is no transparency in the business of surrogacy and the surrogate mothers are prone to exploitation. The Assisted Reproductive Technology Bill 2013 aims to mend matters. This exploratory study conducted in Kolkata brings to light challenges that any legislation dealing with surrogacy must address. It shows how poor women who rent their wombs for money--ignoring social stigma, health hazards, fear and mental stress--are vulnerable to exploitation.

Right to Abort in Surrogacy Contracts

This article makes an enquiry into the right to abort in surrogacy contracts as visualised by the bill on Assisted Reproductive Technology drafted by the Indian Council of Medical Research and introduced in Parliament in 2010. It argues that the bill's anti-abortion clause raises important questions of ethics, fundamental rights as well as legal remedies, if any, in the event of a breach of contract.

Outsourcing Reproduction

Sourcing Surrogates: Actors, Agencies and Networks by V Deepa, Mohan Rao, Rama Baru, Ramila Bisht, N Sarojini and Susan Fairly Murray (New Delhi: Zubaan Publishing Services), 2013; pp 98, price not mentioned.
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