GS Paper 1:
Topics Covered: Women related issues.
Lok Sabha recently passed the Assisted Reproductive Technology Regulation Bill, 2020, which makes provisions for the safe and ethical practice of assisted reproductive technology (ART) services in the country.
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 embryos.
- 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.
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.
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%.
Surrogacy vs ART in India:
- The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill relates to surrogacy, an infertility treatment, where a third person, a woman, is the surrogate mother. In ART, treatments can be availed by the commissioning couple themselves and it is not always necessary that a third person is involved.
- Surrogacy is allowed for only Indian married couples. ART procedures are open to married couples, live-in partners, single women, and also foreigners.
- A 2015 notification prohibits commissioning of surrogacy in India by foreigners or OCI or PIO cardholders, but NRIs holding Indian citizenship can avail surrogacy. Foreigners can visit India under medical tourism to avail ART services.
Another key bill to safeguard the reproductive rights of women — the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019 — was passed by Lok Sabha on August 5, 2019. This one was referred to a Select Committee, which recommended that the ART Bill should be brought first, so that all the highly technical and medical aspects could subsequently be addressed in the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019.
- ART Bill.
- Key features.
- Surrogacy Bill.
- Key Provisions.
Discuss the concerns associated with the Surrogacy Bill.
Sources: Indian Express.