Medical boards for surrogacy: Delhi lends helping hand to childless couples

Delhi LG gives nod to medical boards for surrogacy that will allow childless couples to opt for option without taking permission from court

NEW DELHI | Updated: 22 February, 2023 6:23 pm IST
Constitution of medical boards will allow surrogacy procedures to be undertaken without intending couples having to seek court permission (Representative photo)

Delhi LG VK Saxena approved the constitution of District Medical Boards (DMBs) under the Surrogacy (Regulation) Act, 2021, for the 11 districts of Delhi.

The Delhi LG’s approval of medical boards for surrogacy raised hopes among couples seeking to become parents, who previously had to seek permission from the court.

The Surrogacy (Regulation) Act, 2021, notified by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on December 12, 2021, states that “A District Medical Board has to be constituted for the purpose of issuing a certificate of medical indication in favour of either or both members of the intending couple or the intending woman necessitating gestational surrogacy from a District Medical Board”.

“The Delhi Government has kept the constitution of the DMBs pending ever since the regulation was notified by the Central Government, forcing intending beneficiaries to approach the courts,” LG notifications state.

Reacting to the development, Dr Akta Bajaj, senior consultant and head of department at Ujala Cygnus Group of Hospitals, said, “The decision will give hope to many couples looking to have a child through the procedure.”

“We were constantly getting inquiries from couples on why surrogacy was not happening in Delhi. Our hospital’s gynaecology department has received a lot of questions since the Surrogacy Regulation Act was passed last year,” Dr Bajaj said.

Dr Gauri Agarwal, founder and director of Seeds of Innocence, said, “There is a lot of demand for surrogacy in Delhi. I have a lot of couples who have indicated that they want a surrogacy, such as those who don’t have a uterus, or who have recurrent IVF failures, or who have recurrent abortions, or who have a specific medical indication, such as heart disease, or who have some neurological disorders. So, it’s a good move by LG.”

“Government should take the move quickly now because the ART bill has passed like a year back and still a lot of moves have not been made in it,” said Dr Agarwal.

The ART procedure has to be registered, as mentioned in the notice by LG.

Dr Bajaj, meanwhile, said that the appointed medical boards in 11 districts of Delhi should ensure that proper SOPs are followed in carrying out the surrogacy procedures.

The medical board in each district will be a three-member body. It will be comprised of a chairperson who will be the chief medical officer, a chief civil surgeon or joint director of health services for the district, and two other members – the chief gynaecologist and chief paediatrician of the district.

The nod for the Act comes with certain conditions. Section 4(iii) of the Act says “no surrogacy or surrogacy procedure shall be conducted, undertaken, performed or initiated without the intending couple possessing a certificate issued by the appropriate authority (in this case, the district medical board) specifying the need for gestational surrogacy”.

The Act also stated that a couple seeking surrogacy must be infertile and have been married for at least five years. The couple seeking the help of surrogacy under the Act should not have a child, be it biological, adopted or via surrogacy. However, parents of children with developmental disabilities or life-threatening disorders or illnesses are exempted from the rule.

The Act has also set an age limit for the couple, where a husband must be between 26 and 55 years old and a wife between 23 and 50 years old.

The Act also prohibited any form of monetary assistance other than insurance coverage and reimbursement for medical expenses. It was established to assist childless people in becoming parents while not allowing any kind of lofty business through this.

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