The Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill or ART Bill makes it mandatory for all fertility clinics and banks in India to register themselves with a national registering authority and periodically report all procedures undertaken. It has also laid down strict age bar for men and women who can avail themselves of assisted reproductive technology services.
The Bill states that assisted reproductive technologies can be availed of by any woman above marriageable age but less than 50 years and any man above marriageable age but less than 55 years. Health ministry sources said this step was taken after reports of a number of cases of aged women undertaking these procedures, which is not advisable at an advanced age. Only married women with a child of three years can be an egg donor and can do it only once in her lifetime.
The Bill has put in place stringent processes to be followed by clinics and banks. It provides for the setting up of national and state boards to ensure that clinics follow the rulebook. After the enactment of the legislation, a national registration authority would be set up and all clinics and banks would have to mandatorily register within sixty days.
The Bill lays down the responsibilities of clinics and penalties for flouting the rules. Any clinic or bank promising or advertising facilities of sex selective assisted reproductive technology would face cancellation of registration and owners could face 5-10 years of imprisonment and a fine of Rs 10-25 lakh.
Any medical geneticist, gynaecologist or medical practitioner indulging in trading of human embryos or exploitation of surrogate mothers or commissioning couple would face an imprisonment of 8-12 years and a fine of Rs 10-20 lakh.
“India has the highest growths in assisted reproductive technology centres… ART, including in vitro fertilisation, has given hope to a multitude of persons suffering from infertility but it has also introduced a plethora of legal, ethical and social issues.
India has over the years become one of the major centres of this global fertility industry with reproductive medical tourism becoming a significant activity… However, in spite of so much activity in India, there is yet no standardisation of protocols and reporting is still very inadequate.”