Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill 2020 | UPSC

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Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill 2020 | UPSC

Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill 2020 | UPSC

      HEADLINES:

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

      LEARNING: 

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 !

      ISSUE: 

The Bill was introduced to supplement the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019 (SRB), which awaits consideration by the Rajya Sabha after review by two parliamentary committees.

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 ?

The Bill defines ART to include all techniques that seek to obtain a pregnancy by handling the sperm or the oocyte (immature egg cell) outside the human body.

  • It includes transferring the gamete or the embryo into the reproductive system of a woman.

EXAMPLE
ART services include gamete (sperm or oocyte) donation, in-vitro-fertilisation (fertilising an egg in the lab), and gestational surrogacy

  • 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.

AIM

Its aim is to regulate ART banks and clinics, allow safe and ethical practice of ARTs and protect women and children from exploitation.

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.

State governments will appoint registration authorities for facilitating the registration process. 

  • 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.

ART BILL 2020

CHALLENGES

  • 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.

The Bill restricts egg donation to a married woman with a child (at least three years old).

  • 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”.

IMPRECISE DEFINITIONS

  • Core ART processes are left undefined; several of these are defined in the SRB but not the Bill.

Definitions of commissioning “couple”, “infertility”, “ART clinics” and “banks” need to be synchronised between the Bills.

  • 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.

INFRINGEMENTS

  • 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 .

Surprisingly , bill does not provide for her counselling or the ability to withdraw her consent before or during the procedure.

  • 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 sanctity of marriage, the liberty of procreation, the choice of a family life and the dignity of being” concerned all individuals irrespective of their social status and were aspects of privacy.

CONCERNS

  • 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.

Records have to be maintained for 10 years under the Bill but for 25 years under the SRB.
 

  • 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

FOREIGN CITIZENS

  • There is no prohibition on foreign citizens accessing ARTs.

Foreigners can access ART but not Indian citizens in loving relationships.

  • 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 SRB and the Bill impose high sentences (8-12 years) and hefty fines.

  • 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.

Also, the same offending behaviours under both Bills are punished differently + punishments under the SRB are greater.
 

  • Offences under the Bill are bailable but not under the SRB.

      IASbhai WINDUP: 

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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