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On Responsible Parenthood
Sadhika Pant
 February 12 2024 at 12:03 pm
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A recent Supreme Court verdict in India caught my attention the other day. In this judgement, the top court refused the plea of a 44-year old unmarried woman to become a mother through surrogacy. According to the Surrogacy Regulation Act, widowed or divorced women between the ages of 35 and 45 years can avail the surrogacy route, but this does not extend to single unmarried women. The court observed that child bearing is a huge responsibility, and expressed concern about the child’s welfare and upbringing in such a scenario. It noted that the decision to remain unmarried had been the woman’s own, and the advancement of science and medical procedures should not automatically lead to changes in societal norms. Encouraging the woman to reconsider marriage or explore adoption as alternative paths to parenthood, the court added that the Indian constitution still regards the institution of marriage worth saving, even at the risk of being perceived as conservative. It stressed that unlike Western countries, where the presence of both a mother and a father is not deemed essential for a child's well-being, India is not ready to throw away the nuclear family structure just yet. As anticipated, the decision drew criticism from the left, with some even alleging a violation of fundamental rights. I, on the other hand, think that this was an extremely wise decision, all things considered. Some may argue that the court's decision is regressive, but let's not confuse progress with pandering to individual desires at the expense of societal stability. Perhaps it's time to acknowledge that not every desire warrants immediate gratification. It's not about denying rights; it's about prioritising the best interests of the child over adult whims. If someone's commitment to parenthood is contingent upon bypassing established societal norms, perhaps they should reconsider whether they're truly ready for the responsibilities that come with raising a child. It’s a reminder that just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.