Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) in India
- ART refers to a range of techniques used to achieve pregnancy by handling sperm or egg cells outside the human body and transferring embryos into the woman’s reproductive tract.
- It is regulated by India’s Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Act 2021.
- ART in India is regulated by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
- National Guidelines for Accreditation, Supervision, and Regulation of ART Clinics were established in 2005.
Definition and Techniques of ART
- ART encompasses various procedures, including sperm donation, in-vitro fertilization (IVF), and gestational surrogacy.
- It involves handling sperm and egg cells in a laboratory setting to facilitate fertilization and embryo development.
Types of ART Procedures permitted:
- In Vitro Fertilization (IVF): Eggs and sperm are fertilized in a laboratory dish, and resulting embryos are transferred to the uterus.
- Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI): A single sperm is directly injected into an egg.
- Intrauterine Insemination (IUI): Sperm is placed directly into the uterus during ovulation.
- Surrogacy: A surrogate mother carries and delivers a baby for another individual or couple.
Provisions of the ART (Regulation) Act, 2021:
- The ART (Regulation) Act 2021 provides a system for the implementation of the law on surrogacy by setting up the National Assisted Reproductive Technology and Surrogacy Board.
- The Act aims at the regulation and supervision of ART clinics and assisted reproductive technology banks, prevention of misuse, and safe and ethical practice of ART services.
Definition of ART Services:
- The Act defines ART to include all techniques that seek to obtain a pregnancy by handling the sperm or the oocyte (immature egg cell) outside the human body and transferring the gamete or the embryo into the reproductive system of a woman. These include gamete donation (of sperm or egg), in vitro fertilization (IVF), and gestational surrogacy.
- ART services will be provided through (i) ART clinics, which offer ART-related treatments and procedures, and (ii) ART banks, which collect, screen, and store gametes.
Eligibility Criteria for Donors:
A bank may obtain semen from males between 21 and 55, and eggs from females between 23 and 35. The woman may donate eggs only once in her life and not more than seven eggs may be retrieved from her. A bank must not supply the gamete of a single donor to more than one commissioning party (i.e., couples or single women seeking services).
Conditions for Offering Services:
ART procedures must be conducted only with the written consent of the commissioning parties and the donor. The commissioning party will be required to provide insurance coverage in favour of the egg donor (for any loss, damage, or death).
Rights of a child born through ART:
A child born through ART will be deemed to be a biological child of the commissioning couple and will be entitled to the rights and privileges available to a natural child of the commissioning couple. A donor will not have any parental rights over the child.
Exclusion of Unmarried and Heterosexual Couples:
- The Act excludes unmarried men, divorced men, widowed men, unmarried yet cohabiting heterosexual couples, trans persons, and homosexual couples (whether married or cohabiting) from availing of ART services.
- This exclusion is relevant as the Surrogacy Act also excludes the above-mentioned persons from taking recourse to surrogacy as a method of reproduction.
Reduces the Reproductive Choices:
The Act is also limited to those commissioning couples who are infertile – those who have been unable to conceive after one year of unprotected coitus. Thus, it is limited in its application and significantly reduces the reproductive choices of those excluded.
The prices of the services are not regulated, this can certainly be remedied with simple directives.
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