By Sharanya Gopinathan
Telangana has decided to go boldly where no state has gone before, and has announced its plan to introduce a legislation to curb illegal surrogacy. There’s no Central law to curb or address exploitation of women involved in surrogacy: the Centre framed a draft of the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill in 2016, but this hasn’t even been discussed in Parliament yet, and is a long way from becoming an Act.
Telangana does have good reason to be particularly concerned about this issue. Back in June, we saw the shocking case of a raid on Sai Kiran Infertility Centre in Hyderabad, where police found 38 surrogate mothers who’d been forced to stay there for the last nine months, as the clinic officials were afraid the women would “run away” with the surrogate babies after being impregnated. The discovery prompted Telangana police to raid another clinic, Padmaja Fertility Centre, in Bhongir, Telangana, later that month, where they found 50 surrogate mothers held captive in an adjoining building.
By the way, as of October 27th, 17 of the 38 women found at Sai Kiran, Hyderabad remain at the clinic, awaiting delivery but under proper care and supervision, while the others have already given birth, had the babies handed over to their biological parents, and returned to their homes.
Congress MLAs J Geeta Reddy, N Padmavathi Reddy and G Chinna Reddy raised this issue yesterday during the Assembly’s question hour, and referenced these terrible cases while doing so. Dr Geeta Reddy, a gynaecologist, seems particularly ready to go the extra mile to make this happen: She told the Times of India that the state was free to fill the gap in legislation in this matter since the Centre hasn’t done anything yet, and also that she would be happy to provide the government with an encyclopedia on how different countries tackle surrogacy. She naturally warned, “Of course, the book has to be returned to me.”
This article originally stated that J Geeta Reddy is a Telangana cabinet minister. This has been corrected to reflect that she is an MLA. Telangana currently does not have a single woman in its cabinet.
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