Only 20 per cent of IVF clinics and 2 per cent of ART (assisted reproductive technology) centres in India are registered with the Indian Council of Medical Research. The government is planning to issue a notification which will regulate infertility clinics.

“A comprehensive ART registry will be the first step to transparency in costs and quality,” R S Sharma, senior deputy director general, division of reproductive biology maternal health and child health, told TOI.

There are 20,000 ART clinics in the country which provide IVF. However only 1,500 clinics have applied for registration with the ICMR so far. And only 390 have completed the enrolment process

Illegal practice

Clinics, not registered with the ICMR, often undertake illegal practices like sex determination. Illegal surrogacy clinics are also mushrooming. These clinics do not keep any medical records of the biological parents or surrogate mothers. They often exploit surrogate mothers by keeping them in terrible conditions and by paying them very little.

Surrogacy bill

The Surrogacy Bill, yet to be passed by the cabinet, proposes to abolish commercial surrogacy. It will only allow altruistic surrogacy, after a couple has proven their infertility.

Commercial surrogacy has been legal in India since 2002. Many foreigners travel to the country to avail of surrogacy, which is a multi-billion dollar booming industry, according to CII. 

The parliamentary standing committee on health has said the ART Bill, 2008, which has been lying with the government since 2014, needs to be passed before the surrogacy bill to properly control commercial surrogacy. Surrogacy procedures cannot be conducted without assisted reproduction technologies, it said.

To ensure quality checks, accountability

The bill will ensure quality checks and accountability of ART clinics. It will allow only heterosexual Indian couples, or a foreigner married to an Indian citizen to avail of services. According to a study commissioned by CII, around 20 per cent of those who seek surrogacy in India are foreigners. While some are against the fact that the bill will exclude groups like singles, and homosexuals, others say it will ensure quality and reduce exploitation of surrogates. 

The majority of women who choose to become surrogates are poor, illiterate and not aware of the contract they sign with illegal clinics.

Also Read: Illegal Surrogacy Clinic Raided In Hyderabad

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