The Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Act, 2021 was enacted on December 20, 2021, by the Parliament of India to oversee and regulate the operations of assisted reproductive technology (ART) clinics and ART banks in the country. The Act addresses concerns related to the rapid proliferation of ART clinics and the need to ensure the rights and well-being of individuals undergoing fertility treatments, including surrogacy.
Benefits and Significance:
1. Regulation and Oversight: The Act aims to supervise and regulate the functioning of ART clinics and ART banks, ensuring that they adhere to ethical and legal standards in their operations.
2. Protection of Rights: The Act safeguards the rights of infertile couples seeking treatment and surrogate mothers by setting clear guidelines for procedures and practices. It addresses issues like financial security for oocyte donors and surrogate mothers.
3. Surrogacy Regulation: The Act extends its purview to the contentious issue of surrogacy, offering legal protections to both surrogate mothers and intended parents, and helping prevent exploitation.
4. Ethical Practices: By providing guidelines for pre-implantation genetic diagnosis and sex selection of embryos, the Act ensures that assisted reproduction is carried out within ethical boundaries.
5. Research Regulation: The Act covers research in assisted reproduction and provides guidelines for using human gametes, embryos, and gonadal tissues for research purposes.
6. Data Generation: The establishment of a national ART registry generates valuable data for analysis, research, policy formulation, and enhancing reproductive health practices.
7. Child Rights: The Act recognizes children born through assisted reproduction as legal biological children of the commissioning couple, offering them legal protection.
Criticisms and Weaknesses:
1. Professional Qualifications: The Act does not elaborate on the qualifications, experience, and skills required for professionals working in ART clinics, potentially leading to ambiguity in manpower management.
2. Adoption Regulation: The Act does not include regulations for adoption, which is a common recourse for couples facing repeated failures in ART treatments.
3. Dispute Resolution in Surrogacy: The Act lacks detailed provisions to address disputes arising from surrogacy contracts, which can be significant considering the international nature of surrogacy services.
4. Implementation Challenges: Registering numerous ART clinics and banks, ensuring compliance, and imposing penalties for violations pose challenges, especially at the state level.
5. Cross-Border Concerns: The prohibition on using and transferring human gametes and embryos outside the country might be difficult to enforce at seaports and airports.
6. Confidentiality and Data Use: While the creation of a national ART registry is valuable, ensuring data confidentiality and appropriate use for policy-making is essential.
The Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Act, 2021, is a crucial step towards addressing the growing concerns and challenges in the field of assisted reproduction. While it brings several benefits, including the protection of rights and ethical practices, it also faces criticisms for certain gaps and challenges in implementation. Overall, the Act is aimed at ensuring proper management, oversight, and regulation of ART clinics and banks, contributing to the welfare of individuals seeking fertility treatments while adhering to the country's legal and ethical framework.