How Assisted Reproductive Tech Bill is Discriminatory and Patriarchal?

Ground Report | New Delhi: Assisted Reproductive Tech Bill; Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan introduced the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, 2020 (Bill) in the Lok Sabha on September 14, 2020. The Lok Sabha on Wednesday passed the Bill, that proposes the establishment of a national registry and registration authority for all clinics and medical professionals serving in the field.

While moving the Bill for passage, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya stated that the Government had taken into account many proposals made by the Standing Committee in order to improve the legislation. The bill aims to regulate and oversee Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) facilities and ART banks, as well as to prevent misuse and promote safe and ethical practises. “Many such ART clinics have been running without regulation. A need was felt for regulation of such clinics as there are implications on health of those who undertake the procedure,” Mr Mandaviya told the House.

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Opposition members in Lok Sabha Wednesday attacked the government for the legislation being legislation as “discriminatory” and “patriarchal”.

How is the Bill Discriminatory and Patriarchal?

The first concern is who can access ART. Opposition members in Lok Sabha Wednesday attacked the government for excluding live-in couples, single men and the LGBTQ community from the ambit of the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, 2021

During the discussion on the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, Opposition MPs suggested that the government consider including lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender people (LGBTQ), live-in couples, and single parents in the bill’s ambit. “This law excludes many people, rather than it includes,” Congress member Karti P Chidambaram, who opened the debate on the Bill, said.

Karti went on to say: “When I have given you so many instances of unconventional births and unconventional unions in our Hindu epics, this law only allows married people to have access to this technology. It does not allow LGBTQ people to have access to this technology. It does not allow single men to have access to this technology.”

This is in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution and the Puttaswamy right to privacy jurisprudence, in which the Supreme Court held that “the sanctity of marriage, the liberty of procreation, the choice of a family life, and the dignity of being” were aspects of privacy that affected all individuals regardless of their social status.

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Assisted Reproductive Tech Bill

BSP’s Sangeeta Azad and TMC’s Dastidar also raised the issue of exclusion of single parents and the LGTBQ community from using this procedure. “The bill only allows use of ART by heterosexual married couples and women above the age of marriage but it excludes single men, homosexual couples and LGBTQ people and couples from availing the ART. This is in violation of the Article 14 of the Constitution of India and the right to privacy determined by the Supreme Court in the Puttaswamy case,” according to Azad.

Describing the bill as “patriarchal”, Karti said: “That is again a hallmark of this government. A person who is capable of donating an egg, has to be married and has to have a child who is at least three years old; only then can she become a donor. A single woman cannot be a donor. Again, this reeks of patriarchy.”

There were also questions regarding the possibility of leak of data of the donors. This is order to protect the privacy of the donor.

“So, do not ever say that you are a government which is actually propagating Hindu values. The Hindu values are liberal values. You are, in fact, propagating a Victorian colonial value,” said Karti. There was complete order maintained during the debate in the house and there were no disruptions.

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