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Assisted Reproductive Technology

Context:

The Kerala High Court has said that personal choice to build a family is a fundamental right and fixing an upper age limit for the same was a restriction which needs a relook.

Relevance:

GS II: Government Policies & Interventions, Issues Related to Women

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is the issue?
  2. About Assisted reproductive technology
  3. Provisions of the ART (Regulation) Act, 2021

What is the issue?

  • The issue at hand is that a batch of petitions were filed challenging the age limit of 50 years for women and 55 years for men prescribed under the Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) (Regulation) Act, 2021, for undergoing assisted reproductive technology.
  • The petitioners argue that this age limit, set out in Section 21 (G) of the ART Act, is irrational, arbitrary, unreasonable, and violative of their right to reproduction, which they consider to be a fundamental right.
  • They have sought to have the age limit declared unconstitutional.
  • The High Court has directed the National Assisted Reproductive Technology and Surrogacy Board to alert the Union government to the need for re-evaluating the age limit for using assisted reproductive technology.
  • Additionally, the petitioners have also challenged a provision which brings medical practitioners within the purview of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and makes offenses cognizable, arguing that this has a chilling effect on IVF practitioners across the country, dissuading them from performing their professional duties due to the fear of prosecution.

About Assisted reproductive technology

  • Assisted reproductive technology (ART) is used to treat infertility.
  • It includes fertility treatments that handle both a woman’s egg and a man’s sperm.
  • It works by removing eggs from a woman’s body. The eggs are then mixed with sperm to make embryos.The embryos are then put back in the woman’s body.
  • In vitro fertilization (IVF) is the most common and effective type of ART.
India and ART
  • India has become one of the major centres of this global fertility industry, with reproductive medical tourism becoming a significant activity.
  • This has also introduced a plethora of legal, ethical and social issues; yet, there is no standardisation of protocols and reporting is still very inadequate

Provisions of the ART (Regulation) Act, 2021

Legal Provisions
  • Sets up the National Assisted Reproductive Technology and Surrogacy Board to oversee the implementation of laws on surrogacy
  • Aims to regulate and supervise ART clinics and banks, prevent misuse, and promote safe and ethical practices
Definition of ART Services
  • ART includes techniques that obtain pregnancy by handling sperm or oocytes outside the human body and transferring the gamete or embryo into a woman’s reproductive system
  • Includes gamete donation (sperm or egg), in vitro fertilization (IVF), and gestational surrogacy
  • Services will be provided through ART clinics (offer treatments and procedures) and ART banks (collect, screen, and store gametes)
Eligibility Criteria for Donors
  • Banks may obtain semen from males between 21 and 55 years of age, and eggs from females between 23 and 35 years of age
  • A woman may donate eggs once in her life and not more than 7 eggs may be retrieved from her
  • Gamete from a single donor must not be supplied to more than one commissioning party
Conditions for Offering Services
  • ART procedures must be conducted with written consent from commissioning parties and donors
  • Commissioning party must provide insurance coverage for the egg donor
Rights of a Child Born Through ART
  • Child is considered the biological child of the commissioning couple and entitled to the same rights and privileges as a natural child
  • Donors have no parental rights over the child
Shortcomings
  • Excludes unmarried men, divorced men, widowed men, unmarried yet cohabiting heterosexual couples, trans persons and homosexual couples from ART services
  • Limitations in application, only available to infertile couples and reduces reproductive choices of those excluded
  • Prices of services are not regulated

-Source: Indian Express


February 2023
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