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Parliament approves bills on ART, surrogacy | Latest India News

Parliament on Wednesday passed a bill to regulate assisted reproductive technology (ART) services such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) centers, sperm or egg banks and to tackle practices contrary to ethics related to issues such as sex selection.

The Rajya Sabha passed the Assisted Reproductive Technology Bill 2021 (regulation) by voice vote, a week after the Lok Sabha approved the bill. The Upper House also approved the Surrogacy Bill 2020 (Regulations), which will regulate the growing practice of surrogacy in India.

Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya introduced the two bills to the Upper House on Tuesday, but discussions were disrupted by opposition protests against the suspension of 12 lawmakers. The bills were introduced together because they were closely related.

The minister said the draft law on ART had been introduced after appropriate consultations and that these services needed regulation to protect women and children from exploitation.

“A lot of these ART clinics are operating in the country without regulation. There has been a need to regulate these clinics as there are health implications for those who undertake the procedure, ”the minister said in the Lower House on December 2. “If there is no regulation, unethical practices will increase,” he added. .

The bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on December 1 despite some opposition members criticizing provisions that prevented single men and members of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities from accessing these services. .

The ART bill proposes the constitution of a national council to establish minimum standards of physical infrastructure, laboratory and diagnostic equipment, and expert manpower to be employed by clinics and banks.

The authorities will set up a national registry and a registration authority to maintain a central database and assist the national council. The bill also proposes severe penalties for those who practice sex selection, the sale of human embryos or gametes, management agencies, racketeering and organizations that break the law.

The Surrogacy Bill seeks to ensure effective regulation of the practice, requiring states to form a National Surrogacy Council for regulatory purposes, within three months of notification of the law by the Center.

The bill allows any consenting woman to act as a surrogate mother, and also allows widows and divorcees to opt for surrogacy in order to have children. To safeguard the rights of a surrogate mother, the bill proposes an increase in the duration of insurance coverage for surrogate mothers to 36 months instead of 16 months provided for in the previous version.

Once the law comes into force, commercial surrogacy will be banned and illegal in India, including the sale and purchase of human embryos and gametes. The bill was controversial and underwent several improvisations because in the first draft, tabled in 2019, the government intended to only allow altruistic surrogacy, with the surrogate being a close relative.

The bill had already been passed by the Lok Sabha, but the Rajya Sabha referred it to a select committee in 2019. It will now return to the Lok Sabha for approval. Mandaviya said most of the select committee’s recommendations were incorporated into the bill.

“We still have to see which amendments were approved in the two bills or whether the original version was adopted. There is not enough clarity at the moment. But the issue of excessive red tape remains the same, for which they have proposed tough penalties. We don’t know how the clinics will work in the future, ”said Dr Shivani Sachdev Gour, senior gynecologist and obstetrician and IVF expert.

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