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Assisted Reproductive Technology Regulation Bill

Topics Covered: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Assisted Reproductive Technology Regulation Bill

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Features, need for and significance of the bill, reforms needed.

Context: Cabinet clears Assisted Reproductive Technology Regulation Bill, aims to regulate IVF clinics.

Overview and key features of the Bill:

  • It would lead to the creation of a national board to lay down and implement a code of conduct for people working at IVF clinics.
  • Determines the minimum standards of physical infrastructure, laboratory, diagnostic equipment and expert manpower to be employed by ART clinics and banks.
  • The bill intends to make genetic testing of the embryo mandatory before implantation for the benefit of the child born through ART.
  • It also seeks to streamline the cryo-preservation processes for sperm, oocytes and embryo.
  • It also proposes to constitute a national registry and registration authority to maintain a central database and assist the national board in its functioning.
  • The bill proposes stringent punishment for those “practising sex selection, sale of human embryos or gametes and running agencies/rackets/organisations for such unlawful practices.

Background:

According to a registry maintained by the Indian Council of Medical Research, there are 1,269 ART clinics in India (as on November, 2019). The number swells up to 1,846 when ART clinics and ART banks are taken together. Maharashtra has the maximum number of ART clinics (266) followed by Tamil Nadu (164), Delhi (113), Karnataka (102), Uttar Pradesh (92) and Gujarat (80).

Need for a legislation in this regard:

The need to regulate the ART services is to protect the affected women and children from exploitation. Registration with the ICMR is a voluntary exercise at the moment because of which many clinics don’t take the trouble and prefer opacity while offering infertility treatment.

Significance:

The major benefit of the act would be regulation of the assisted reproductive technology services in the country. Consequently, infertile couples will be more ensured and confident of the ethical practices in ART clinics.

What is ART? Why it is in demand?

Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART), as commonly understood, comprises procedures such as in-vitro fertilisation (IVF), intra-uterine insemination (IUI), oocyte and sperm donation, cryopreservation and includes surrogacy as well.

Social stigma of being childless and lengthy adoption processes have increased the demand for ART in India. It is thus not surprising that the ART industry is expected to grow by a compounded annual growth rate of 10%.

Sources: pib.