This month, two bills dealing with fertility services have been passed by Parliament — the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill 2021, and the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill 2020.
The fertility services sector in India is huge, and has boomed over the last couple of decades. One estimate puts the number of infertile couples in the country at 27 million, while another estimate indicates that sector is worth thousands of crores. Over the last decade or so, there have been news reports of various kinds that have to do with the sector — from legal concerns over the custody of children, especially those born to couples from abroad or those whose parents separate, to the death of egg donors and several other issues that have arisen in the ethically complex world of assisted reproduction and the creation of a family.
The need for regulation of the sector has been long-felt — the Indian Council of Medical Research first drafted guidelines in 2005, and the Law Commission then called for legislation in 2009.
So what do these Bills say? Who can and cannot access assisted reproductive tech and surrogacy services in the country? Do the Bills protect the interests of couples who want a baby and of the women who would be egg donors or surrogates? How will clinics that offer these services be regulated and what can commissioning couples and those offering reproductive services expect?
Guest: Dr Prabha Kotiswaran, professor, law and sociology, King's College, London
Host: Zubeda Hamid
Edited by Ranjani Srinivasan