Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, 2021

    0
    756

    In News

    • A bill to regulate and supervise assisted reproductive technology clinics was passed by the Lok Sabha by a voice vote. 

    Highlights of the Bill

    • Aim of the Bill:
      • The Bill seeks to regulate and supervise assisted reproductive technology clinics and banks, prevent misuse of the technology, and promote ethical practice of the services.
      • This bill is meant for those who aspire to parenthood. It is for the women to attain motherhood if they so desire.
      • The bill has excluded live-in couples, single men and the LGBTQ community.
    • Who can avail this?
      • The Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill stipulates that a woman wishing to donate ovum must be between 23 and 35 years, married and have at least a child of her own, 3 years or older.
      • According to the bill, a woman above the legal age of marriage and below the age of 50 and a man above the legal age of marriage and below the age of 55 can avail the assisted reproductive technology services.
      • A couple or a single woman can use ART for becoming a parent.
    • National Registry of Banks and Clinics of India:
      • The bill stipulates that every ART clinic and bank must be registered under the National Registry of Banks and Clinics of India.
      • The registry will be established under the bill.
      • States will appoint authorities for processing registration.
      • The registration will have to be renewed every five years.
      • Clinics shall make an application to the Registration Authority within a period of 60 days from the date of establishment of the National Registry.
    • Penal provisions:
      • Sex selection: It also proposes stringent punishment for those practising sex selection and sale of human embryos or gametes.
      • The bill introduced last year had provisions that offences will be punishable with a fine between Rs 5 and Rs 10 lakh for the first contravention.
      • For subsequent contraventions, these offences will be punishable with imprisonment for a term between eight and 12 years, and a fine between Rs 10 and Rs 20 lakh.
      • Advertising or offering sex-selective ART: Any clinic or bank advertising or offering sex-selective ART will be punishable with imprisonment between five and ten years, or fine between Rs 10 lakh and Rs 25 lakh, or both.
      • Trafficking and sale of embryos: The bill also has a provision that those involved in trafficking and sale of embryos will be fined Rs 10 lakh in the first instance and in the second instance, the person can be imprisoned for up to 12 years.
    • National Board:
      • The bill proposes the constitution of a national board.
      • The board will set minimum standards of physical infrastructure, laboratory, diagnostic equipment and expert manpower to be employed by clinics and banks.
    • Professional counselling:
      • The bill states that professional counselling on the implications and chances of success of assisted reproductive technology procedures in the clinic shall be provided to the commissioning couple and the woman. 
    • Insurance cover:
      • To provide insurance cover for egg donors and protection from multiple embryo implantation (due to the health risks involved for mother and child).
    • Preimplantation genetic testing mandatory:
      • To make preimplantation genetic testing mandatory for the benefit of a child born through assisted reproductive technology.

    Criticism of the Bill

    • Discriminatory in nature: The bill was discriminatory as it did not allow single men and LGBTQ couples to become parents.
    • It draws powers from Surrogacy Bill: Bill cannot be taken up for consideration since it draws its powers from the Surrogacy Bill which is yet to be passed in the Rajya Sabha.
    • Expensive procedure: It excludes those who cannot afford this expensive procedure for a baby and the government should consider supporting poor childless parents for taking ART’s help.
    • Side effects and other disadvantages not mentioned clearly: Cost of the procedures, their medical side effects, risks including the risk of multiple pregnancies and any such other matter that may help the commissioning couple to arrive at an informed decision should be stated in the bill.
    • Issue of regulation: Many such ART clinics have been running in the country without regulation. Thus, a need was felt for regulation of such clinics.
    • Not feasible for a single man to use ART: Since sex determination is not legal, it is not feasible for a single man to use ART to become a parent.

    Need for ART regulation in India

    • Minimum standards and codes: Bill seeks to set minimum standards and codes of conduct for fertility clinics and egg or sperm banks.
    • Standard operating procedures: need is to formulate standard operating procedures to ensure “uniform costs” and “global quality standards” across India.
    • Monitoring body: The committee also noted that a monitoring body should be set up to prevent the “commercialisation” of ART services by private players.
    • To stop unethical or exploitative practices: The need of the hour is to stop unethical or exploitative practices.

    Way Forward

    • Monitoring mechanism: The committee said that a monitoring mechanism under the overall guidance of a national board had to be set up to “prohibit unbridled commercialisation of the ART services.
    • Government support: The Government should consider supporting poor childless parents for taking ART’s help as it is an expensive method.

    Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART)

    • It is used to treat infertility.
    • It includes fertility treatments that handle both a woman’s egg and a man’s sperm.
    • It works by removing eggs from a woman’s body.
    • The eggs are then mixed with sperm to make embryos.
    • The embryos are then put back in the woman’s body.
    • In vitro fertilization (IVF) is the most common and effective type of ART.
    • ART procedures sometimes use donor eggs, donor sperm, or previously frozen embryos.
    • It may also involve a surrogate or gestational carrier.
    • A surrogate is a woman who becomes pregnant with sperm from the male partner of the couple.
    • A gestational carrier becomes pregnant with an egg from the female partner and the sperm from the male partner.
    • The most common complication of ART is a multiple pregnancy.
    • It can be prevented or minimized by limiting the number of embryos that are put into the woman’s body.

    Surrogacy

    • Surrogacy involves a woman agreeing to carry a baby for someone else.
    • After the baby is born, the birth mother gives custody and guardianship to the intended parent or parents.
    • A woman who agrees to carry and give birth to a baby for another person is a surrogate or birth mother.
    • Parents of a baby born through a surrogacy arrangement are known as intended or commissioning parents.
    • India is one of the few countries that still allow commercial surrogacy.
    • Commercial surrogacy, on the other hand, is allowed in India without any legal basis.
    • This essentially implies that, while commercial surrogacy is legal in India, there is no particular law governing it.

    Source: IE