ART or the Assisted Reproductive Technology regulation bill was approved by the cabinet few days back. This bill aims to monitor and regulate the medical technologies which are used to help women achieve pregnancy. An example is IVF – which stands for In-Vitro Fertilization. The bill is a good step towards preventing exploitation of affected women and children.
The bill tends to encourage ethical practices by laboratories, clinics and ART banks.
What is ART?
Assisted Reproductive Technology is used to address the issue of infertility in humans. It consists of various techniques such as in-vitro fertilization, intracytoplasmic sperm injection, etc. Recently, India has seen a surge in numbers of such fertility clinics and corresponding rise in reproductive medical tourism. Clinics in India nearly offer all the services ranging from IVF to gestational surrogacy. While, previously no protocols and standardization were present, regulations on such practices are required.
Under the bill, the clinics, banks and labs would have to follow a code of conduct laid down by a National Board. In addition to this, state boards and state authorities will be set up and a National Registry will be responsible for keeping a database for efficient functioning.
It also has provisions of punishment in case of illegal practices such as sex selection, sale of embryos and gametes.
The bill has also made genetic testing of embryos compulsory before the process of implantation for the benefit of child born out of ART.
Under the regulations, certain minimum standards need to be maintained in
infrastructure, quality of manpower, equipment and diagnostic apparatus.
Why is regulation required?
It is important to regulate these practices so that families are ensured of the ethical practices taking place, they are not cheated as life of woman is involved. Also, record-keeping is an important part of such procedures to keep check, for eg. check the health of children born out of ART, to provide reliable information to the couples about the outcomes, etc.
Also, regulations on the kind of genetic tests permissible on the embryos are of utmost necessity.
Without proper policy or regulation of sensitive processes which use ART, reproduction will become commercialized with serious implications on the health of women and children.
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