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British couple compelled to leave surrogate baby in India; Sushma Swaraj questions UK

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 11 February 2017, 5:46 IST

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has, on 13 September, in a series of tweets taken up the cause of a British couple who had a baby through surrogacy in India. However, they were compelled to leave their daughter in an orphanage as they were unable to get a British passport for her.

In a tweet, Swaraj stated, "Should orphanage be the destiny of a surrogate baby?"

Chris Newman and Michele Newman are currently in Mumbai on a medical visa which is valid till 7 October. The British consulate has reportedly said that the three-month-old baby - Lily - may not get travel documents in time.

"We can't believe that we could be forced to do the unthinkable and leave our baby in India!" the couple from Surrey in England has written in a petition on change.org.

The petition reads:

"We have already been told twice now by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office that we should be prepared to leave Lily. It is madness that UK Government and HMPO is so willing to safeguard the well-being of a baby applicant to ensure that it hasn't been trafficked, that it is happy for that child to be left without its parents in a foreign country with a complete stranger.

"Whilst I understand that checks have to done, I would also hope that common sense would prevail, after all a simple DNA test would prove that Chris is the biological father."

Swaraj questioned British authorities in her tweets and also took a swipe at those who have criticised the government's move towards tougher surrogacy laws. Lily's passport application has been with the UK Home office since 3 June.

The Newmans are among the last to have a surrogate baby in India after the government decided last month to ban commercial surrogacy and said only a close relative can be a surrogate.

BBC quoted Chris Newman as saying, "I did have to do something no father had to - I was pacing around at 3 am, looking at orphanages in the middle of Mumbai."

The UK Home Office has reportedly said that the baby's passport will be issued after checks to ensure that her "interests are protected" and claim to British nationality verified.

First published: 14 September 2016, 10:42 IST