India is currently facing a declining fertility rate and a changing social structure, with late marriages and single parenthood becoming more common. In light of this, does the proposed ART Bill and Surrogacy Bill restrict or enhance the reproductive choices available to Indian citizens?
Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART), as commonly understood, comprises procedures such as in-vitro fertilisation (IVF), intra-uterine insemination (IUI), oocyte and sperm donation, cryopreservation and includes surrogacy as well. Social stigma of being childless and lengthy adoption processes have increased the demand for ART in India. It is thus not surprising that the ART industry is expected to grow by a compounded annual growth rate of 10%.
No legislation currently regulates ART in India. In 2002, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) laid out guidelines for surrogacy. Further, in 2005, the ICMR issued the ‘National Guidelines for Accreditation, Supervision and Regulation of ART Clinics in India’ (ICMR Guidelines), which inter alia, prescribed the conditions that ART clinics need to comply with. Both the above initiatives did not have any legislative backing. Thereafter, the Assisted Reproductive Technology Bill (ART Bill) was first proposed in 2008, with the final version being brought out in 2017. The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016 (Surrogacy Bill) was passed by the Lok Sabha in December, 2018, and is currently pending Rajya Sabha approval.