Law, motherhood and the single woman: Discrimination and surrogacy in India

February 19, 2024 | Jayna Kothari

Jayna Kothari, CLPR Executive Director gives her thoughts on legal challenges faced by single women in India regarding surrogacy and bias in the Surrogacy (Regulation) Act, courts, and highlights the need for legal reform to uphold reproductive rights.


Excerpt from the Article:


A single woman in her forties once sought my legal opinion on a surrogacy arrangement she was planning to undergo in a foreign country because current laws do not permit single women in India to have children through surrogacy. While I gave her my opinion and she went ahead with her surrogacy arrangement abroad, another woman has taken a different route. This woman has approached the Supreme Court seeking the right to have a child through surrogacy as a single woman. The Surrogacy (Regulation) Act 2021, permits only married couples or only a woman who is a widow or divorcee between the age of 35 to 45 years to have children through surrogacy. It does not allow a single, never-married woman to use surrogacy for having children. The petitioner has challenged this provision of the law as being discriminatory on the grounds of her single status.


The Supreme Court, while issuing notice to the government, remarked that there were other ways in which the woman could have a child — she could get married or adopt. It also remarked that she could not have everything in life as she had chosen to remain single and that the institution of marriage was important in society as children need to know their fathers. The petition throws up a whole range of important issues and questions the inherent biases that our society has in accepting single women, especially when it comes to access to reproductive choices.


Jayna Kothari, 'Law, motherhood and the single woman: Discrimination and surrogacy in India' (The Indian Express, 19 Feb 2024) <> accessed on 25 Jul 2024