Explained: What’s in ART, surrogacy bills

Wednesday, Lok Sabha passed away Assisted Reproductive Technology Regulation Bill 2020, which provides for the safe and ethical practice of assisted reproductive technology (ART) services in the country.

Another key bill to protect women’s reproductive rights – the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill of 2019 – was passed by Lok Sabha on August 5, 2019. This was referred to a select committee , who recommended that the ART bill be introduced first. , so that all highly technical and medical aspects can then be addressed in the Surrogacy Bill (Regulation), 2019.

What is the difference?

The Surrogacy Bill (Regulation) concerns surrogacy, a treatment for infertility, where a third person, a woman, is the surrogate mother. In ART, the treatments can be carried out by the sponsoring couple themselves and it is not always necessary for a third party to be involved.

Surrogacy is only allowed for Indian married couples. ART procedures are open to married couples, resident spouses, single women, as well as foreigners. A 2015 notification prohibits the commission of surrogacy in India by foreigners or OCI or PIO cardholders, but NRIs holding Indian citizenship can resort to surrogacy. Foreigners can visit India as part of medical tourism to avail ART services.

Under the Surrogate Motherhood Bill, there will be a National Surrogacy Council which will be involved in policy making and act as an oversight body, and State Councils which will act as an oversight body. as executive bodies. The ART bill provides for a National Council, endowed with the powers conferred on a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure.

According to the Ministry of Health, the estimated number of clinics performing surrogacy in India is probably less than 1,000, while those providing ART is probably over 40,000.

Why was the ART bill deemed necessary?

The growth of ART clinics in India is among the highest in the world, and these are a key part of medical tourism. These offer gamete donation, intrauterine insemination, in vitro fertilization, intracytoplasmic sperm injection and preimplantation genetic diagnosis.

India does not yet have standard ART clinic protocols. Amid questions raised about their ethical, medical and legal aspects, Lok Sabha passed the bill that provides for the regulation and supervision of ART clinics and ART banks.

What is an ART bank?

Under the bill, ART will include all techniques that attempt to achieve pregnancy by handling the sperm or oocyte outside the human body and transferring the gamete or embryo into the reproductive system. a woman. It defines an ART bank as an organization created to provide sperm or sperm, oocytes or egg donors to ART clinics or their patients. ART services will apply to women over the legal age of marriage and under 50, and to men over the legal age of marriage and under 55.

How will ART services be regulated?

NATIONAL COUNCIL : He will advise the Center on policy issues. He will review and monitor the rules and regulations and recommend any changes. It will set minimum standards for physical infrastructure, laboratory and diagnostic equipment, and expert manpower to be employed by clinics and banks. State councils will coordinate the implementation of the guidelines.

NATIONAL REGISTER: It will have a central database of all clinics and banks in the country, including the nature and types of services provided, and the results of those services. The registry will provide the data to the National Council for policy and guidelines development.

REGISTRATION AUTHORITY: It will have the chairman, who will be a senior officer at the rank of co-secretary in the Department of Health; a vice-president, who will be above the rank of co-director of the health department; a prominent woman representing a women’s organization; an officer of the legal department and a distinguished medical officer.

The functions of the registration authority will include: granting, suspending or canceling the registration of ART centers; enforce standards and oversee the application of the law; investigate complaints regarding any violation of the provisions, initiate legal proceedings against the misuse of ART and initiate independent investigations; and to recommend to National and State Councils to modify the regulations according to technological changes and social conditions.

What rules must clinics follow?

They must ensure that sponsoring couples, women and gamete donors are eligible for ART procedures and that the donor is medically tested. They will need to provide professional advice on all the implications and chances of success – and educate couples on the pros, cons, costs, side effects and risks, including that of multiple pregnancies. They will have to set up a complaints unit.

ART clinics should inform the couple or the sponsoring woman of the rights of a child born using ART and ensure that all data is kept confidential. The bill says that a child born by ART should be considered a biological child of the sponsoring couple. The child will be entitled to all the rights and privileges available to a natural child of the sponsoring couple, and the donor will have to waive all parental rights over the child.

What are the other guarantees?

The bill states that the clinic should not perform any treatment or procedure without the written consent of all parties requesting ART. It imposes insurance coverage in favor of the egg donor by the couple or the female sponsor with an insurance company. The insurance will provide a guarantee of compensation for the specified loss, damage, complications or death of the donor during the process.

What are the regulations on the use and supply of gametes and embryos?

Women cannot be treated with gametes or embryos from more than one male or female in the same treatment cycle. Second, a clinic cannot mix the semen of two people for the procedures. Third, the embryos should not be divided and used for pairing in order to increase the number. In addition, there will be regulations for the harvest of oocytes or embryos, and the number of oocytes or embryos that can be placed in a woman’s uterus during the treatment cycle.

The bill states that the ART bank cannot provide sperm or oocyte from a single donor to more than one sponsoring couple. In addition, the egg donor must be a married woman who has at least one living child who is at least three years old. She can only donate eggs once in her life, and no more than seven eggs should be collected. A donor’s gamete or embryo must be stored for a period not exceeding 10 years.

Will there be screening tests for the disease?

The bill requires that preimplantation genetic testing be used to screen the embryo for known, pre-existing, hereditary or genetic diseases. The test will identify genetic defects in embryos created by IVF before pregnancy. The National Council will set the conditions for pre-implantation tests.

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