The Department of Social Work of Kristu Jayanti College organised a Panel Discussion Surrogacy Bill 2016: Socio- Legal Challenges Ahead on 23rd January 2017 in the College premises. There were five panellists and around 200 participants.
The discussion started with the formal welcome by Dr. Jonas Richard A, Head of Department of Social Work and felicitation by Dr. Gopakumar A V, the dean of the Humanities deanery. The moderator of the session was Dr. Janet Parameshwara (Social welfare officer, Kidwai Memorial Institute of Oncology, Bengaluru). The esteemed panel included Adv. Hari G. Subramanian (Chief Consultant, Indian Surrogacy Law Centre, Chennai), Ms. Gita Aravamudan (Freelancer, Journalist & Author), Dr. A. Thirumoorthi (Professor, Psychiatric Social Work, NIMHANS, Bengaluru), Dr. Rubina K. Nadeem (Chief Medical Officer, Regal Hospital, Bengaluru).
The Panel Discussion on surrogacy began with a visual media representation that shed light on Surrogacy to bring a tone on the topic among the audience. Dr. Janet started the session with an introductory remark which set the tone for the discussion. Each panellist shared their view of surrogacy from the perspective of their area of expertise.
Ms. Rubina K. Nadeem enlightened the students on the terms infertility & surrogacy and its types. The various fertility treatments and process of declaring a couple infertile were discussed during the session. The panel that charters the contract with the intended couple and surrogate mother includes legal, financial and psychological counsellor.
The psychosocial ethical aspects pertaining to surrogacy was shared by Dr. A. Thirumoorthi. The speaker began his session addressing the implications & consequences of surrogacy & the emotional status of the surrogate mother post the process. Dr. Thirumoorthi referred to suicidal tendencies due to regret of choosing the surrogate demand as an atrocity affecting the woman's marital life. The speaker highlighted various other issues faced by the surrogate mother like prejudice, lack of emotional and economic support from family, Psychosis and attachment syndrome. Another major dimension that the speaker threw light on was the psychological climate that a woman possesses during pregnancy has a significant effect on the psychological, physical and social development of the child in its later stages.
Adv. Hari G. Subramanian emphasized that infertility is a problem that expands to the whole family. Mr. Hari shed light on a summary of the surrogacy bill 2016. The criteria for age of surrogate mother, intended couple, essentiality of surrogacy were mentioned by the speaker. He also highlighted that there is presently no law regarding surrogacy in India. The two conditions for surrogacy such as the surrogate mother should be a relative of the childless couple and it should be done for altruistic reasons were stated by the speaker. He indicated that there is an abundance of demand and supply for surrogacy due to increase in infertility in the current scenario. The resource person introduced the concept of Surrogacy agreement that communicates to the parties involved how they should behave with each other during the period of surrogacy and post scenario.
Ms. Gita Aravamudan gave a comprehensive view of surrogacy in India. Ms. Gita referred to Assisted Reproductive Technology otherwise known as surrogacy as being a new need for childless couples. The speaker gave a practical view on the issues that lead to the Indian women choosing surrogacy to provide for herself and her family. Ms. Aravamudan shared that from a feminist point of view, a woman is morally and ethically justified if she is in need of financial aid and decides on being the surrogate, provided it is not done under coercion.
The question and answer session saw an array of questions being raised on the Indian mindset and the acceptance of surrogacy, measures to manage postpartum depression, role of social workers in surrogacy, difference between adoption and surrogacy.
The Panel Discussion concluded with Dr. Janet Parameshwara the moderator, summarizing the socio- legal and psychosocial challenges of surrogacy deliberated by the panellists. The programme ended with a 'Thank you' note by Dr. I Jerry Richards, the coordinator for the this programme.