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MUMBAI: Experts are calling on the Centre to quickly turn surrogacy guidelines formulated by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) into an Act to avoid complex scenarios like the one faced by Norwegian national Kari Ann Volden.
Volden has been living in India for more than a year because her home country refuses to give citizenship to the twins she had through surrogacy.
Dr R S Sharma, who heads the reproductive health and nutrition division at the ICMR, complained that cases like Volden's are happening too often. "Clinics have to be extra cautious. Creating stateless children is absolutely unacceptable," said Sharma, who was one of the key people behind ICMR's Assisted Reproductive Technology guidelines.
Sharma said though there was nothing wrong in helping Volden, the fertility clinic she used should have first found out if the children born out of surrogacy will be allowed to move to Norway. He added that the ICMR guidelines were finalised in 2009, around the same time when Volden must have commissioned surrogacy.
In November last year, the ICMR submitted a final set of guidelines for Assisted Reproductive Technology Act to the law ministry. The guidelines recommend that foreigners be asked to prove that surrogacy is recognized in their country and that the children born of the procedure will be granted citizenship back home.
Some experts say that people like Volden are victims of unclear regulations. "There is nothing stopping a single woman from making use of ART to have children," said Dr Firuza Parikh, director of assisted reproduction and genetics at Jaslok Hospital.
But there are others who ask why Volden did not adopt children instead of tailor-making them. A leading gynaecologist said Volden's clinic should have taken an ethical stand instead of giving in to the fancies of a foreigner. "Ethically, and otherwise, we encourage that the child should have some genetic link to the parents. If not, we suggest those couples adopt children," said the doctor.