Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill 2020 | UPSC
Assisted Reproductive Technology Bill needs a thorough review
WHY IN NEWS:
Assisted Reproductive Technology Bill raises constitutional, medico-legal, regulatory concerns. It needs a thorough review.
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 2 : 3 :Bill : Health
For PRELIMS go through the important definitions and offences under this act .
For MAINS this can be a potential question ! We have mentioned concerns , challenges , hurdles for single women etc . Compare this bill with the older version . That will suffice your preparation . Let us dive in !
ASSISTED REPRODUCTIVE TECHNOLOGY BILL 2020
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan introduced the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, 2020 (Bill) in the Lok Sabha on September 14.
WHAT IS ART ?
- It includes transferring the gamete or the embryo into the reproductive system of a woman.
- ART Bill makes it mandatory for all fertility clinics and banks in India to register themselves with a national registering authority .
ART services will be provided through:
(i) ART clinics, which offer ART related treatments and procedures, and
(ii) ART banks, which store and supply gametes.
REGULATION OF ART CLINICS AND BANKS
- The National Registry will be established under the Bill and will act as a central database with details of all ART clinics and banks in the country.
- Clinics and banks will be registered only if they adhere to certain standards (specialised manpower, physical infrastructure etc).
- The registration will be valid for five years and can be renewed for a further five years.
- Registration may be cancelled or suspended if the entity contravenes the provisions of the Bill.
- It fails to respond to the needs of the 27 million infertile Indian couples.
- The egg donor’s interests are subordinated in a Bill proposed in her name.
- Even here, egg donation as an altruistic act is possible only once a woman has fulfilled her duties to the patriarchal institution of marriage.
- Children born from ART do not have the right to know their parentage.
- The Bill requires pre-implantation genetic testing where the embryo suffers from “pre-existing, heritable, life-threatening or genetic diseases”.
- Core ART processes are left undefined; several of these are defined in the SRB but not the Bill.
- The Bill designates surrogacy boards under the SRB to function as advisory bodies for ART, which is desirable.
- However, both Bills set up multiple bodies for registration which will result in duplication or worse, lack of regulation.
- The Bill’s prohibition on the sale, transfer, or use of gametes and embryos is poorly worded.
- The ART Bill does not do what it says on the label. It does little to protect the egg donor.
- Harvesting of eggs is an invasive process which, if performed incorrectly, can result in death.
- The Bill requires an egg donor’s written consent .
- She receives no compensation or reimbursement of expenses for loss of salary, time and effort.
- Failing to pay for bodily services constitutes unfree labour, which is prohibited by Article 23 of the Constitution.
HURDLES FOR A SINGLE WOMEN
- A single woman cannot commission surrogacy but can access ART.
- The Bill allows for a married heterosexual couple and a woman above the age of marriage to use ARTs.
- It excludes single men, cohabiting heterosexual couples and LGBTQI individuals and couples from accessing ARTs.
- This violates Article 14 of the Constitution and the right to privacy jurisprudence of Puttaswamy, where the Supreme Court .
- The first concern is who can access ART.
- These disorders need specification or the Bill risks promoting an impermissible programme of eugenics.
- Prior versions of the Bill regulated research using embryos, which must be brought back.
- Although the Bill and the SRB regulate ARTs and surrogacy, respectively, there is considerable overlap between both sectors. Yet the Bills do not work in tandem.
- The same actions taken by a surrogacy clinic and ART clinic (likely to be the same entity) attract varied regulation.
- Previous versions of the Bill required independence between ART banks and ART clinics.
- There is no such distinction now
- There is no prohibition on foreign citizens accessing ARTs.
- This is an illogical result which fails to reflect the true spirit of the Constitution.
OFFENCE AND PUNISHMENT
- Clinics must instead have ethics committees.
- Mandated counselling services should also be independent of the clinic.
- The poor enforcement of the PCPNDT Act, 1994, demonstrates that enhanced punishments do not secure compliance — lawyers and judges also lack medical expertise.
- Patients already sue fertility clinics in consumer redressal fora, which is preferable to criminal courts.
- Offences under the Bill are bailable but not under the SRB.
The Bill raises several constitutional, medico-legal, ethical and regulatory concerns, affecting millions and must be thoroughly reviewed before passage.
SOURCES: PRS | Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill 2020 | UPSC
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