06/23/2010, 00.00
INDIA
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Indian law to legalise uterus rental, making children genetically orphans

by Nirmala Carvalho
Indian Church is worried about the draft bill. A new law on assisted procreation could give singles, gay and heterosexual, an opportunity to have children. “A child’s biological nature is in the hands of God, not science,” Card Varkey Vithayathil says.
Mumbai (AsiaNews) – The Indian Church is concerned about a controversial bill on assisted reproduction, which, if adopted, would allow couples to rent surrogate uteri.

“This law radically changes our society and the structure of the family and its values,” said Card Varkey Vithayathil, Syro-Malabar archbishop of Ernakulam–Angamaly in Kerala. “A child that develops over a nine-month period may no longer have a biological tie under the law with the mother.” For him, a child’s biological nature is in the hands of God, not science.

A bill, the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Act, 2010 (ART Act), is before the Indian parliament; its purpose is to regulate the multi-million dollar business of surrogacy, used especially by foreign couples.

A 2009 Law Commission report described ART industry as “an Rs 25,000-crore pot of gold” (US$ 5.4 billion). Under the draft piece of legislation, renting a womb would be banned; only non-profit surrogacy would be allowed for women aged 21 to 35. However, it would let anyone, including unmarried couples, to have children this way, opening the path to gay and heterosexual singles to surrogate parenthood, destroying the sense of the family.

“Along with the term single persons, the path is open for gays and lesbians to use ART procedures,” said senior advocate Rajiv Dhavan, who played a crucial role in drafting the Bill along with his colleagues at the Public Interest Legal Support and Research Centre. “The expression ‘unmarried couples’ generally suggests heterosexual relationships. But its interpretation has been left open.”

For Pascoal Carvalho, a member Pontifical Council for Life, “This draft bill is legalising something immoral and unnatural”. Speaking to AsiaNews, he said that the proposed legislation “completely separates the procreative dimensions from the sanctity of marriage, leading to a human ecological disaster.”

In addition, “this disconnect between procreation and fatherhood is unprecedented in human history and tragically the babies enter the world as genetic orphans.”

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