Lok Sabha passes Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) bill, check major provisions

ART services can be availed by, as per the provisions of the bill, by women above the legal age of marriage and below 50 years of age.

The donor, if involved in the ART process, will have to relinquish all parental rights over the child. (Representative image)

The lower house of parliament recently passed the Assisted Reproductive Technology Regulation Bill, 2020 which aims at making the practice of assisted reproductive technology (ART) safe and ethical across the country. It is important to note that the government has also got the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019 passed from Lok Sabha in August 2019 but withheld it from introducing it in the Rajya Sabha after the Select Committee recommended that the government should first pass the ART bill and only then go ahead with the Surrogacy bill, the Indian Express reported.

Surrogacy vs ART
Surrogacy bill aims at regulating the practice of surrogacy where infertile parents seek help of a third woman who is also known as surrogate mother. On the other hand in ART technology, the infertile couple can become parents without necessarily taking help from a third person. As per the provisions of the surrogacy bill, the practice will be only available for Indian married couples taking live-in partners, single women, and foreigners out of its ambit. The government had issued a notification in 2015 prohibiting the practice for foreigners, OCI or PIO cardholders but allowed NRI Indian citizens to avail the service. On the other hand, the ART service can be availed by not only foreigners but also live-in partners, single women, foreigners among others.

As per the Union Health Ministry data, the practice of ART is more prevalent in India as compared to surrogacy as only 1000 clinics are involved with the latter service while more than 40000 clinics use ART technology.

Why has the government brought ART bill?
India has emerged as one of the fastest growing centers for the ART service and attracts a lot of medical tourists from different countries around the world. Gamete donation, intrauterine insemination, in-vitro- fertilisation, intracytoplasmic sperm injection, and pre-implantation genetic diagnostic are among the host of services that come under the banner of ART service. The bill aims at setting up the standard protocols, rules and regulations for the healthy growth of this service in the country.

ART bank
ART bank has been defined as an organisation that supplies sperm, oocytes, or oocyte donors to ART clinics or interested parents. ART services can be availed by, as per the provisions of the bill, by women above the legal age of marriage and below 50 years of age. Similarly, the ART services can be availed by men below 55 years of age and who have attained legal age to marry.

Regulatory authorities
The bill has the provision to set up three organisations namely-National Board, National Registry and Registration Authority. The National Board will advise the government on policy matters, determine the standards of ART service infrastructure and coordinate with the state boards. The National Registry will keep records of all ART clinics and ART banks on a centralised database and will help the National Board by providing necessary data. Registration Authority on the other hand will emerge as an authority to grant, suspend or cancel the license of an ART clinic, investigate breach of regulations and advise the National Board on modifying the existing regulation or provisions on the ART service.

What rules do clinics need to comply with?
Apart from ensuring that the commissioning couple are eligible for availing the ART service, the clinics also need to provide counselling, make couples aware of the advantages, disadvantages, side effects and other important factors. The commissioning couple should also be made aware of the rights of the child born through ART and ensure cent percent confidentiality of data. The bill clarifies that the child begotten through the ART service will be entitled to all the rights and privileges that a naturally born child gets from her parents. The donor, if involved in the ART process, will have to relinquish all parental rights over the child.

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