All about ART & Surrogacy Bill

The purpose of the ART Bill is to address the gaps that exist in the industry and protect women and children from exploitation, writes Dr Rita Bakshi
Last Updated : 18 April 2022, 06:26 IST
Last Updated : 18 April 2022, 06:26 IST

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Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) includes all techniques that attempt to obtain a pregnancy by handling the sperm or the oocyte outside the human body and transferring the gamete or the embryo into the reproductive system of a woman. ART and surrogacy go together. To undergo an ART treatment, a surrogate is involved in case the woman is not medically fit to bear the baby.

Surrogacy is a modern and growing means of bringing a new life into the world, where a woman carries a baby for another person or a couple. The intended parents undergo IVF, meaning fertilisation outside of the body, to transfer their embryo into the surrogate’s uterus. A huge rise in medical tourists in India in the past few years has been noticed and the ART treatment is the primary element. But standard protocols are yet to be furnished in India. ART and Surrogacy Bills are passed to regulate IVF clinics, look into the flourishing surrogacy practice in India and to restrain commercial surrogacy. The ART Bill was passed by Lok Sabha and a week later, the Surrogacy Bill was cleared by the Upper House in December 2021. Both the bills are closely related.

What is the purpose of ART &
Surrogacy Bill?

The purpose of the ART Bill is to ensure that ART clinics are appropriately equipped with essential provisions and a team of medical practitioners. To successfully carry out the procedures related to ART, all the practitioners must be registered with the National Medical Commission. The need for an ART Bill in India was to set up standard protocols, rules, and regulations for the healthy growth of the ART practice. Pre-determination of sex is not offered to either the couple or the surrogate. The purpose of the ART Bill is to address the gaps that exist in the industry and protect women and children from exploitation. The upper age limit of the commissioning couple has been determined at 55 years. By passing the ART Bill, the Government is trying to support the IVF segment in India.

The Surrogacy Bill aims at checking the practice of regulating surrogacy with the help of a third woman called a surrogate mother. Only Indians are allowed to avail this service. As per the rule, written consent is made mandatory for donors and the commissioning couple before involving in the ART procedure. Commercial surrogacy is banned, and the government intends to allow altruistic surrogacy only. Another clause in the bill is that the surrogate must be a near relative of the couple.

Does the Bill restrict
reproductive choices?

Altruistic surrogacy is a humanitarian act done by a woman. As per law, monetary compensation to the surrogate mother is restrained. During the pregnancy, medical expenses and insurance coverage are taken care of. Apart from the insurance, no compensation is paid to the woman for carrying the baby for nine months. In today’s age of hyperinflation, this approach is not practical. Again, surrogacy is all about confidentiality. To eliminate the risk of emotional attachment with the baby, it is suggested to maintain distance between the surrogate and baby. However, the new law which suggests that a close relative must become a surrogate can affect the relationship of the new parents, baby, and surrogate in the near future.

(The author is a fertility expert.)

Published 16 April 2022, 18:39 IST

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