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New Assisted Reproductive Technologies, Reproductive Rights And Choice Of Freedom To Women (ART 2021 Bill)

In this world of the growing population, some people face the problem of Infertility. But just like a wonder these men and women facing the issue of Infertility got their miracle also known as Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART). Assisted Reproductive Technology means all techniques that attempt to obtain a pregnancy by handling the sperm or the oocyte outside the human body and transferring the gamete or the embryo into the reproductive tract of a woman.

Dealing with Infertility is certainly not easy and the growing acceptance of ART is due to the increasing occurrence of Infertility in both males and females. With the growing practice of ART globally it came to notice that ART has various drawbacks in itself, it introduced a plethora of legal, ethical, and social issues. But, how to deal with it? No proper laws or regulations existed that would have dealt with these rising issues. Thus, with this situation in hand countries started framing policies and Bills that would protect and provide guidance to the ones who are undertaking the procedure of ART.

Among all the Countries India has become one of the major centers of this global fertility Industry over the years, it has registered the highest growth in the ART centers and several ART cycles performed every year. And as Industry grows along with-it responsibilities grow too. India previously had no such proper laws regulating the ART field, thus it finally Introduced ART (Regulation) Bill, 2020. The newly discussed Bill was laid down on 17th March 2021, and this Bill provided Women with the freedom to practice their Reproductive rights and make their choices accordingly. It gave acceptance to various new ARTís.

The new Bill read Clause 2(x) as:
Woman means any woman above 21 years of age who approaches an assisted reproductive technology clinic or assisted reproductive technology bank for obtaining the authorized services of the clinic or bank.

And along with it 21 (g) if read it states that the Clinic shall apply the assisted reproductive technology services, -(i) to a woman above the legal age of marriage and below the age of fifty years. In both the clauses it can be observed that any woman can try for ART, not necessarily she needs to be married to conceive a child through ART. Previously only married couples were allowed to go for ART services but now with the new-laid down bill, any single woman, unmarried, divorced, or widowed can avail of the ART services. This gives women absolute freedom to practice their Reproductive Rights.

Clause 21 (e) and clause 27 (6) of the Bill protects the receiving women and the women donors by stating that the clinics and banks shall ensure that the information shall be kept confidential and the information about treatment shall not be disclosed to anyone except to the database to be maintained by the National Registry or to the court while curtailing with specific circumstances.

Clause 28(2) under the ART bill deals with the storage and handling of human gametes and embryos. Women who decide to bear child later stage of their lives, one who wants to delay childbearing but fear that due to aging of the ovary the total number of oocytes will decline and will result in them not being able to conceive. Therefore, a resort of cryopreservation of oocytes has been provisioned under the recent Bill. The longest storage period is 14 years. This rule gives women the freedom to lead their lifestyle the way they want, and live without the tension of aging and childbearing.  They donít have to sacrifice their dreams just because they had to conceive as it was the right age, they can choose when to have a child.

There are various other clauses under this Bill which gives protection to the concerned parties who are going through the process of ART. This Bill is very thoroughly and thoughtfully laid down. It provides equal conditions to the single woman as divorced, widowed, and unmarried to avail ART services just like the married couples keeping in view that adoption is allowed for a single woman. As per ART. 21 of the Constitution of India.

But there are still many areas left to cover particularly focusing on the situation of women donors. There is still some lacking in the Bill, more clauses should be introduced. Therefore, the Bill is to be further discussed.[1]

End-Notes:
  1. https://prsindia.org/files/bill_track/2020-09-13/SCR%20The%20Assisted%20Reproductive%20Technology%20(Regulation)%20Bill,%202020.pdf

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