ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Vulnerable to Exploitation

Unregulated assisted reproductive technology clinics are mushrooming but there is no sign of a regulatory law.

India’s first in vitro fertilisation (IVF) baby was born in October 1978 (a few months after the first such baby in the world was born in the United Kingdom), followed by the country’s first test-tube baby in 1986. Since then, the field of assisted reproduction services has not only grown rapidly, it has also become the most lucrative in gynaecological practice. To date, however, there is no legislation to regulate an activity that is fraught with medico-legal and ethical issues. Recently, the union government admitted before a bench of the Supreme Court that it is “deeply concerned” over the unregulated mushrooming of assisted reproductive technology (ART) clinics in the country and that guidelines to regulate their services will be framed shortly for implementation, until a law, presently in “the post-drafting” stage, is enacted.

A public interest litigation was filed by a couple alleging that the infertility treatment clinic in Kerala they had approached had used donor ova without their consent. The clinic had assured them that the intra cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) procedure they had opted for would not use either donor sperm or ova. The pregnancy, which had resulted after a three-year long treatment, had to be terminated due to complications and a DNA test of the foetus showed the use of donor ova. After the Kerala High Court rejected their petition, the couple approached the Supreme Court seeking guidelines for ART clinics.

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