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Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Bill: What is It, How is It Different from Surrogacy Bill?

Research-backed

World Health Organization reports suggest that the infertility rate in India is between 3.9 to 16.8%. Although the numbers seem less, it depicts many individuals and couples across the country. The above also applies only to primary infertility and doesn’t cover the aspects of secondary infertility.

So, it is convincing that infertility in India is prevalent, and individuals seek the required treatment. Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) is one of the advanced medical treatments that help overcome infertility. The ART Bill was passed recently in 2021 to support the ethical practice of the treatment.

This article will discuss the different aspects of the Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Bill and its difference from the Surrogacy bill.

What is the Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Bill?

The Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Bill 2020 was a recent bill that the Lok Sabha passed with amendments. The bill was passed on December 01, 2021, highlighting the “safe and ethical practice of the various ART treatment options for infertility.”

The bill was initially tabled on September 14, 2020, in front of the Lok Sabha. According to the statement, the appeal was to define Assisted Reproductive Technology as all the medical interventions conducted to ensure a successful conception by handling the sperm and eggs (outside of the body), followed by implantation of the fertilized gamete into the female reproductive system.

Following its table in September 2020, the bill was further examined and looked into by the standing Lok Sabha committee in October 2020. The standing committee, after their scrutiny, tabled the bill on March 19, 2021.

The current health minister of India, Mansukh Mandaviya has analyzed the bill and declared that the central government has gone through the bill and considered the suggestions made in it.

The official statement under the approved bill annexed:

“India has over the years become one of the major centers of this global fertility industry, with reproductive medical tourism becoming a significant activity…However, there is no standardization of protocols, and reporting is still very inadequate.”

The primary objective under the ART bill is to protect the following:

  • Right of the donors
  • Right of the commissioning couples
  • Right of the children born via ART

Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Bill-Explained

What are the Outlooks under the Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) 2020 Bill?

The objectives under the ART 2020 Bill are very clear. They include regulation of the operation of the clinics, the rights of the parties involved, and the ethical demonstration of the processes.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the same.

Regulation of ART clinics

The bill organized the establishment of the National Registry of Clinics and Banks, which acts as a centralized database for all the ART clinics across India.

The primary function of the National Registry would be to analyze, process, and only grant licensing to the clinics equipped to conduct ART procedures. This will involve checking over:

  • Available equipment and infrastructure
  • Qualified and experienced medical professionals
  • Proper diagnostic facilities

The approved license for the clinics will come with a tenure of five years. Following that, the clinics will have to re-apply to renew their license.

National and State Boards

The bill also developed separate National and State boards to regulate the available ART services across India. The National Board will work in association with the Central Government to refine and improve the available ART facilities in India.

The National and State boards are also responsible for verifying the implementation of the ART 2020 Bill across the states in India and suggest changes if needed.

Conditions for the donation of gametes

The ART 2020 Bill also highlights the importance of donation of gametes from male and female individuals. The donations can only be processed through registered ART banks in India.

The male donors should be between the ages of 21-55 years, while the female donors should be between 23-55 years.

For female donors, the bill has certain proposed conditions:

  • The donor should be married with at least one child
  • The child should be at least three years old
  • The donor can donate once in their life and not more than seven eggs per cycle

The ART services currently are available only to a commissioned couple or a woman. Also, the bill makes it mandatory for genetic testing of the embryo before implantation into the female uterus.

Child Rights Born through ART

The ART 2020 Bill also protects the rights of every child born through an ART procedure.

Under Section 31 of the bill, the commissioned couple will have sole rights of the child born through the procedure. The donor will have no rights on the child and relinquish all their rights via documentation.

Emphasis on Emotional Well-being

Couples seeking help with ART procedures are already struggling with infertility issues. According to the bill, the ART clinics must offer professional counseling to the couple to help them understand the procedure, the consequences, and what’s to follow.

The clinic also has to have transparent communication about the procedure, the risks, and the costs involved in the same.

Offenses under the Bill

Besides the positive and bright sides to the passed ART 2020 Bill, it also comes with a few consequences. Some of the punishable offenses subject to violation of this bill include:

  • Abandonment of the conceived child through ART
  • Selling, trading, or trafficking of the child
  • Financial exploitation of the commissioning couple
  • Opting for intermediate donors without regulations under the ART banks
  • Transferring the fertilized embryo into the body of a male or animal

Committing any of these above offenses is punishable by law and will start with INR 5-10 lakhs of compensation for the first offense, followed by INR 10-20 lakhs for the consecutive offenses. The offenders are also subject to 8-10 years in jail.

What is the difference between ART Bill and Surrogacy Bill?

Although the concepts can seem similar and confusing, they come with their differences. These bills target helping couples, and individuals overcome their struggles with infertility to conceive a biological child/children.

However, both these approved bills come with some differences too.

Assisted Reproductive Technology 2020 Bill Surrogacy Bill
Involves assisted reproductive techniques done “to the couple” to help them conceive a child. Involves a third-party individual who is responsible for carrying the child of a commissioned couple and giving birth to them.
Can be opted by married couples, live-in couples, single mothers, even foreign individuals. Can be opted by married couples only.

 

Conclusion

The approval of the Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Bill is a breakthrough decision in India. Not only will it regulate the procedure and outcomes, but it will also ascertain better ethical functioning of the clinics across India. Couples and individuals who want to conceive a baby and enjoy the joy of parenthood can now do that without worrying about the legalities involved in the procedure.

Somapika Dutta (B.Sc Physiology, Honours)
Somapikar holds Bachelors Degree in Physiology from University of Culcutta. She has 6+ years of experience writing in different niches, including health, tech and lifestyle. An animal enthusiast and a raging foodie, experiencing life - one day at a time.

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