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Experts welcome ART Bill but stress lack of inclusivity

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New Delhi, Dec 9 (IANS) The Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, 2020, will regulate the in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) practice in India and prevent mushrooming of unauthorised IVF clinics in the country, experts said here.

The Bill passed in Lok Sabha last week, was also approved in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. It seeks to regulate fertility clinics, ART banks, prevent misuse, adopt safe and ethical practises. It also proposes the establishment of a national registry and registration authority for all clinics and medical professionals serving in the field.

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“The field of Assisted Reproductive Technology has been unregulated for a long time, and has seen a proliferation of ART clinics and banks that have been running unchecked. This has led to unethical practises and commercial exploitation at the cost of women’s reproductive health. Regularisation of this space through mandatory registration and standard operating procedures for private clinics is a welcome step,” Poonam Muttreja, Executive Director Population Foundation of India, told IANS.

“The Bill will regulate IVF practice in India and prevent mushrooming of unauthorised IVF Clinics. The bill will ensure that clinics have the basic requirements of embryologist and clinician which will be full time and also the laboratory infrastructure machinery and properly conducted consulting and counselling. It will make sure that patients are offered the best treatment and not treated by people who are untrained in this field,” added Dr Kaberi Banerjee, Medical Director of Advance Fertility & Gynecological Centre, New Delhi.

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According to the Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, every woman above 21 years of age can now become a mother with the new Bill. Even divorcees and widows can use the ART Bill.

“The Bill will work towards empowering couples by making better and more information available to them about treatment options which will help improve awareness; improving patient safety and improve awareness about patient rights,” Dr. Prof. (Col.) Pankaj Talwar, VSM, Head, Medical Services Birla Fertility and IVF, told IANS.

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However, experts noted that implications of the bill for categories of individuals other than married couples needs further clarity.

“The government should ensure that single parents and the LGBTQIA+ communities must not be excluded. We call upon our elected representatives to be more compassionate to all aspiring parents regardless of their marital status and identities,” Muttreja said.

The Bill also addressed the issues of reproductive health where ART is required for becoming a parent or for freezing gametes, embryos, embryonic tissues for further use due to infertility, disease or social or medical concerns and for regulation and supervision of research and development.

It has also fixed the number of attempts an egg donor can give her eggs and put a stop on commercial egg donation. However, the facility may not be available in smaller cities, the experts noted

“We welcome the ART Bill to protect the interests of all parties but there are several provisions that are troubling. Due to severe increase in paperwork and administration work the cost of treatment will go up and will affect the poorer section of society more who will then have no option. Those couples who need donor egg or donor gamete will have reduced pregnancy rates due to lesser number of eggs collected from the donor,” Dr Shivani Sachdev Gour, Director of SCI Healthcare, IVF expert and Gynecologist, told IANS.

“Though, the Bill aims to ensure proper treatment is provided to the public in general but how these will be implemented will be a challenge for the government and stakeholders.” Banerjee said.

–IANS

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