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India to introduce new fertility regulation

Antony Blackburn-Starza

Progress Educational Trust

06 October 2008

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[BioNews, London]

New laws to regulate assisted reproductive technology in India will be introduced to Parliament later this year. The text of the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill 2008 was published last week by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) for public comment. The bill aims to regulate surrogacy arrangements in the country where regulation is lacking, in addition to other technologies including pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) and research on embryos. 

The bill will set up a National Advisory Board for Assisted Reproductive Technology to oversee the delivery of the services in the country. A regulatory body, the Registration Authority, will grant licences to fertility clinics to store gametes and offer fertility services. Embryo research must be performed on embryos donated for research and not stored beyond 14 days. Researchers must apply for a licence from the Registration Authority to perform research on embryos. The bill will also make it a criminal offence to perform sex-selection procedures except to prevent or treat a sex-linked disorder or disease. 

Media reports last August about a baby girl, Manyi Yamada, showed inadequacies in India's regulation of surrogacy, which was legalised in 2002. Manyi was born to an Indian surrogate mother, but the Japanese couple who arranged the surrogacy split up prior to the birth of the child. The child's biological father sought parental rights over the child but Indian laws were not clear on the status of foreign parents involved in surrogacy arrangements within its borders and the matter had to be decided in the courts. The new bill will clarify this area by making a surrogate child the legitimate child of a separated or divorced couple. Foreigners seeking surrogacy arrangements in the country will be required to register with their embassy and will have to state with whom the child should be looked after in the event of one of the parent's death. 

Following surrogacy, the child's birth certificate will show the names of both genetic parents. The bill also forbids women under 21 from entering into surrogacy arrangements and from having more than three live births in their lifetime. Once a surrogate child attains the age of 18, they may apply for information about their surrogate parent. 

India's Health Ministry does not keep official statistics on the number of surrogate births in the country but it is believed to be low. Media reports suggest that surrogacy arrangements in India can attract surrogate fees of between $12,000 to $30,000, with the industry being worth around $445m. The bill does not ban offering surrogate mothers compensation for their services.

Dr P M Bhargava, a member of the ICMR who helped draft the bill, told the Times of India that, 'considering all the news about surrogacy, including the recent case of the Japanese child, we realised that the new law addresses all the problem areas'.

The bill is timetabled to be debated by the Indian Parliament in the winter session.

© Copyright Progress Educational Trust

Reproduced with permission from BioNews, an email and online sources of news, information and comment on assisted reproduction and genetics.

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Date Added: 06 October 2008   Date Updated: 06 October 2008
Reviews (1)
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dr.suhas mhaiskar   20 September 2011
law for betterment or harrasment?
it is observed that many things are written in law but on practical grounds it is very difficult to follow and here starts the harrasment by sanctioning authorities . The basic aim is lost and corruption starts. Same happened with pcpndt act. After implmentation for so many yrs the number of girls are less than boys. I think the law should be suitable on social &economical issues . While preparing it experts should contribute. Experts should be mainly from medical field who know the limitations as we are in developing country where basic fascilities like electricity not available for 24 hrs. Regulations should not come in way of doctors.

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