N. Sarojini, Priya Ranjan | The Wire | 2 December 2015
Throughout the draft ART (Regulation) Bill, the role and importance of the husband has been over-emphasised. It debars single women from availing ART services, violating their fundamental right to procreation.
Over the past few years, Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ARTs) – a group of technologies that assist in conception – have led to the phenomenal growth in the Indian ‘fertility industry’. The ART business is an integral part of India’s booming medical market and medical tourism industry. However, there is no law so far to regulate and monitor the functioning of the ever increasing number of ART clinics. In 2005, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) issued guidelines for the accreditation, supervision, and regulation of ART clinics. However, these guidelines are not legally binding on ART clinics. Several studies and media reports have highlighted the rampant unethical and illegal practices of ART clinics where they exploit desperate infertile couples and vulnerable surrogate mothers for commercial gain.
The ART (Regulation) Bill, 2014 – now placed in the public domain by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for comments and suggestions – proposes to establish a National Advisory Board, State Advisory Boards and a National Registry for the accreditation, regulation and supervision of ART clinics and ART banks. The core responsibility of these regulatory bodies, according to the draft Bill, is to prevent the misuse of ARTs and ensure safe and ethical ART services. The scope is ambitious and a mammoth infrastructure with matching human resources will be needed to operationalise the proposed regulatory bodies.