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Bill to help people stay single and have kids.

SINGLE women and men as well as those in live- in relationships will be able to become parents once a proposed law on assisted reproduction, including surrogacy, is enacted.

The Assisted Reproductive Technology ( Regulation) Bill, 2010, defines assisted reproduction technology as all techniques that attempt to enable a pregnancy by handling or manipulating the sperm or the egg outside the human body and transferring the embryo into the reproductive tract.

It has been drafted by the Indian Council of Medical Research ( ICMR). " We have sent it to the health ministry. It will then go to Parliament," an ICMR official said. The Bill has been scanned by the law ministry and their suggestions have been taken into account.

Dr P. M. Bhargava, scientist and member of the drafting committee of the Bill, said the proposed law is " very open" on all issues.

The committee has also drafted rules and regulations associated with the Bill so that it may be immediately notified on passage.

The Bill stipulates informed consent from couples -- married or unmarried -- before they opt for assisted reproductive technology.

" The child born to a single woman will be considered her legitimate child and the child born of a single man will be his legitimate child. The birth certificate issued to a baby born through surrogacy will bear the name, or names, of individual or individuals who commissioned the surrogacy, as parents." The Bill is open about possibilities of homosexual couples becoming parents using assisted reproductive technologies if this kind of sexual relationship is legalised in India. " We have not prohibited same- sex couples from having babies. It is not our prerogative. We have left it to the law of the land," the official said.

In the case of same- sex couples from other countries seeking surrogacy in India, the country will not offer services if homosexuality is not recognised in the country to which the couple belongs.

The Bill defines a " couple" as two persons living together and having a sexual relationship that is legal in India. According to it, " unmarried couple" means two persons of marriageable age living together by mutual consent without getting married " in a relationship that is legal in the country or countries of which they are citizens". The individual, or individuals, who have availed of the services of a surrogate mother will be legally bound to accept the custody of the child or children irrespective of any abnormality that the child or children may have, the proposed law states.

If a couple, married or unmarried, separates or gets a divorce before the child is born but after they have consented to using assisted reproductive technology, the child will be the legitimate child of the couple.

" No woman less than 21 years of age and over 35 years of age shall be eligible to act as a surrogate mother under this Act," the Bill says. It also prohibits a woman to act as a surrogate for more than five successful live births in her life, including her own children. A surrogate mother is also allowed to receive monetary compensation from the couple or individual seeking her surrogacy.

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Jun 13, 2010
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