Assisted Reproductive TechnologyBill all Set to become a Law; gets Parliament’s Nod
Following the approval of LokSabh, Rajya Sabha on Wednesday also passed a bill that aims to regulate in vitro fertilization (IVF) clinics- The Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, 2021. The upper house also passed the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2020, with amendment. The Surrogacy Bill prohibits commercial surrogacy in India.
The proposed legislation on surrogacy was earlier passed by the Lok Sabha, but the Rajya Sabha had referred it to a select committee. The bill will now move to the Lok Sabha for final approval.
Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya moved both the bills together in the parliament. “Most of the recommendations of the select committee have been incorporated in the surrogacy bill. Both the bills seek to curb unethical practices pertaining to issues ranging from sex selection to exploitation of surrogate mothers at the hands of prospective parents and agencies. The provisions include both monetary penalty as well as jail terms for violations," said Mandaviya, adding that these bills are aimed at giving respect to women facing problems in giving birth.
The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2020, proposes to regulate surrogacy in India by establishing a National Surrogacy Board at the central level and state surrogacy boards and appropriate authorities in states and Union territories.
The Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, 2021, aims to regulate and supervise assisted reproductive technology clinics and assisted reproductive technology banks, and prevent misuse.
Among other objectives are ensuring safe and ethical practice of assisted reproductive technology services for addressing the issues of reproductive health where the technology is required for becoming a parent or for freezing gametes, embryos, embryonic tissues for further use due to infertility, and other conditions.
In past few years, India has become a centre of the global fertility industry, with reproductive medical tourism becoming a significant activity. Clinics in India offer nearly all Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) services—gamete donation, intrauterine insemination (IUI), in vitro fertilization (IVF), intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) and gestational surrogacy. However, despite so much activity in India, there is no standardization of protocols and reporting is still very inadequate.
"The Bill has proposed significant points to bring the industry under regulation, including setting up minimum standards of adequate physical infrastructure, diagnostic equipment, expert manpower, and laboratory procedures to be employed by clinics and banks," said Dr. Archana Dhawan Bajaj, IVF Specialist, Nurture Clinic.
"A registration authority has also been proposed in the bill to maintain a database of all clinics and medical professionals functioning in the field, as well as the development of a national registry," she added.
Furthermore, several clinics claim to perform IVF when, in fact, they are merely performing IUI and are thereby defrauding couples. The ART Bill also wants harsh penalties for sex selection businesses, the sale of gametes or human embryos, and organisations that break the law.