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RS passes ART Regulation Bill and Surrogacy Bill

The ART bill also seeks to prevent exploitation and commercialisation by determining the age of the gamete donor.

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New Delhi: The Rajya Sabha on Wednesday passed the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, 2021 for regulation and supervision of assisted reproductive technology services in the country, and the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019 for regulation of the practice and process of surrogacy.

The ART Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on December 1.

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Speaking on the bills before their passage, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said the two bills would prevent the exploitation of women.

With regard to ART Bill, the first offence will entail compensation of Rs 5-10 lakh, while a second or repeated offence will entail a fine of Rs 10-20 lakh and a jail term of 10 years. Offences under the Surrogacy Bill will entail a jail term of 10 years, he added.

The bills were passed after two days of discussion in the Rajya Sabha, in the midst of interruptions by opposition members demanding revocation of the suspension of 12 members.

The ART Bill was passed with five amendments.

Mandaviya said it was important to regulate Assisted Reproductive Technology as well as surrogacy in the country, as people from abroad would come to India to hire wombs and leave.

“The times have changed, and it is important to respect our sisters and women and help those women who are unable to become mothers,” he said.

He cited the case of a young woman who died in 2014 during the procedure to stimulate her ovary to produce eggs. He also said that very young unmarried women give their wombs for hire to earn money, and it was important to regulate this.

He also cited the case of a 74-year-old woman, who gave birth to twins, though she was not physically able to look after them at her advanced age. “It is not correct, it is unethical, and it is important to regulate it,” he said.

Mandaviya said the IVF centres have been there in the country, but were running without any regulation, and sex selection was also being done.

People were also mixing gametes to choose the colour of eyes and complexion of the offspring in the ART centres, which was unethical.

He said these factors have been kept in mind in the bill.

Mandaviya described the surrogacy bill as a progressive bill, saying it would prevent the exploitation of women. He said there were some women, who “for their own luxury, go for surrogacy” and the bill would prevent this.

He said most of the suggestions of the select committees have been accepted on both the bills.

He said the bills would also prevent exploitation by OCI cardholders and NRIs, who come to India, use surrogates and exploit them.

The age of women for the ART has been kept from 21-50 years, he said.

He said the effort would be to help the women to try and become mothers on their own and only later go for surrogacy or ART.

He said under the law, now a woman can be a surrogate mother only once, and that too after she has a child of her own, who is at least three years old.

The ART bill also seeks to prevent exploitation and commercialisation by determining the age of the gamete donor.

A woman whose ovum is to be taken would be insured, in order to provide for compensation in case of any mishap that could occur to her while stimulating her ovaries artificially to produce eggs. The bill would also prevent the sex selection of gametes.

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