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Assisted Reproductive Technology Regulation Bill 2020 to regulate IVF centres in India.

Assisted Reproductive Technology Regulation Bill 2020 to regulate IVF centres in India.

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  • GS 3 || Science & Technology || Biotechnology || Reproduction & Biotechnology

Why in the news?

  • The Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, 2020, was recently passed by Parliament.
  • Live-in couples, single men, and members of the LGBTQ community are all exempt from the measure.

What is Assisted Reproductive Technology?

  • ART 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 carrier.

What is the need for the bill?

  • To Standardize Protocols: Numerous ART clinics have operated without regulation, posing a risk to the health of people who have had the process.
    • India has become one of the major centers of the global fertility industry(ART), with reproductive medical tourism becoming a significant activity. This has also introduced a plethora of legal, ethical, and social issues; yet, there is no standardization of protocols and reporting is still very inadequate.
    • If there is no regulation, unethical behavior will become more prevalent.
  • Protection of Women and children’s rights- An insurance policy is required for the oocyte (a cell in the ovary) donor.
    • The implantation of many embryos must be regulated, and children born through ART must be protected.

Significance 

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

Key Features of the Bill

  • A National Board that will establish a code of conduct for those who operate ART clinics.
    • The Board will also establish minimum criteria for laboratory and diagnostic equipment, as well as practices that clinics and banks’ human resources must follow.
    • An ART Bank is an organization that provides sperm/sperm donors, oocytes/oocyte donors, and surrogate mothers to Assisted Reproductive Technology clinics or patients.
  • ART that is safe and risk-free
    • The bill establishes guidelines for the safe and ethical use of assisted reproductive technologies in the country.
    • The bill protects the rights of the child born through ART and ensures the confidentiality of intending spouses.
  • Pre-Genetic Implantation Testing (PGIT) – required because it allows clinicians to check embryos for any faulty chromosomes before transferring them to the uterus.
    • This is to prevent genetic problems in the people who are born as a result of these technologies.
  • A national registry and registration authority that will keep a database to help the national Board carry out its duties.
  • Punishment
    • The bill proposes harsh penalties for people who engage in sex selection, sell human embryos or gametes, or run agencies/rackets/organizations that engage in such illegal activities.
    • The bill stipulates that anybody implicated in the trafficking and sale of embryos will be fined Rs 10 lakh in the first instance and might be imprisoned for up to 12 years in the second case.

Concerns about the bill

  • Accessibility Discrimination: The Bill enables a married heterosexual couple and a woman above the age of marriage to use ARTs, but not single men, cohabiting heterosexual couples, or LGBTQ+ persons and couples.
  • Redundancy: Both the Surrogacy and the ART Bills will create various registration bodies, resulting in duplication or, worse, a lack of regulation.
  • Surrogacy clinics, for example, are not obligated to register surrogacy to the National
  • Article 14 of India’s constitution is violated by the bill, which is also silent on children’s rights.
    • Equality before the law and equal protection under the law cannot be denied to anyone in India, according to Article 14.
  • Cost of Services: The procedure’s cost should be closely monitored so that even the poor can benefit from it.

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 the commissioning of surrogacy in India by foreigners or OCI or PIO cardholders, but NRIs holding Indian citizenship can avail of surrogacy.
  • Foreigners can visit India under medical tourism to avail ART services.

Way forward

  • Establishment of Ethics committeesEthics committees are required in clinics, and compulsory counseling services should be separate from them.
  • Prior versions of the Bill restricted embryonic research, which must be reinstated, and definitions of “couple,” “infertility,” “ART clinics,” and “banks” must be synchronized between the Bill and the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill.
  • All ART entities shall be obligated by the national interest, cordial relations with other states, public order, decency, and morality as directed by federal and state governments.
  • Before affecting millions of people, all of the constitutional, medico-legal, ethical, and regulatory concerns highlighted by the Bill must be thoroughly examined.

Mains model Question

  • What’s in ART, Surrogacy Bills? Discuss the concerns related to the ART Bill 2021 and suggest ways to make it all-inclusive.

References