|Demand of the question|
Introduction. Contextual introduction.
Body. Discuss salient features of the Assisted Reproductive Technology Regulation Bill, 2020. Significance of Assisted Reproductive Technology Regulation Bill, 2020.
Conclusion. Way forward.
Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) is a contraceptive technology that helps couples who are unable to conceive naturally to bear children with the aid of technology. In recent times, the ART market has grown. To regulate this practice and in light of increasing commercialisation ART Bill, 2020 is introduced in parliament.
Salient features of the Assisted Reproductive Technology Regulation Bill, 2020:
- Mandatory Testing:The bill makes provision for pre-genetic implantation testing that will allow doctors to test embryos for any possible abnormal chromosomes before they are transferred to the uterus. This is to avoid any genetic diseases in the population born through these technologies.
- Code of conduct: A National Board will be formulated, which will lay down a code of conduct to be observed by those operating ART clinics. The Board will also formulate minimum standards for laboratory and diagnostic equipment and practices to be followed by human resources employed by clinics and ART banks.
- Regulatory Boards at State Level: The States and Union Territories will have to form State Boards and State authorities within three months of the notification of the proposed legislation. The State Board shall have the responsibility to follow the policies and plans laid by the National Board for clinics and Banks in the State.
- Database: A national registry and registration authority, which will maintain a database to assist the national Board to perform its functions.
- Stringent Punishment: The Bill proposes for a stringent punishment for those practising sex selection, sale of human embryos or gametes, running agencies and rackets for such unlawful practices.
Significance of Assisted Reproductive Technology Regulation Bill, 2020:
- Regulation: The major benefit of the bill would be that it will regulate the Assisted Reproductive Technology services in the country. According to a registry maintained by the Indian Council of Medical Research, there are 1,269 ART clinics in India that need regulation.
- Safe ART: The bill makes provisions for safe and ethical practice of assisted reproductive technology services in the country through proper testing.
- Confidentiality: The Bill will ensure confidentiality of intending couples and protect the rights of the child born through ART. Consequently, infertile couples will be more ensured/confident of the ethical practices in ARTs.
- Prevent exploitation: A market projection (by Fortune Business Insights) said the size of the ART market is expected to reach $45 billion by 2026. Among Asian countries, India’s ART market is pegged at third position. Undoubtedly, this also led to a plethora of legal, social and ethical issues. The bill is important to protect the affected women and children from exploitation.
- Reproductive rights: The bill along with the surrogacy bill would safeguard the reproductive rights of women. The bill will strengthen reproductive rights of women by maintaining privacy of women (fundamental right to privacy as in K.S. Puttaswamy) and preventing their over-exploitation.
Assisted reproductive technology has grown by leaps and bounds in the last few years. India has one of the highest growths in the ART centers and the number of ART cycles performed every year. However, in spite of so much activity in India, there is yet no standardisation of protocols and reporting is still very inadequate. Thus ART bill is necessary.