New Delhi: Since its introduction, the surrogacy bill has been topic of controversy. In January, 2017, the Rajya Sabha Chairman referred the legislation, as introduced in the Lok Sabha, to the Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare for examination and a report on it. Recently, the said committee submitted its report, which was then presented in the Rajya Sabha.
The committee, indeed put forward many progressive suggestions, and pointed out some very valid drawbacks in the proposed bill that need to be corrected for its successful implementation. The committee was seen “strongly” recommending that the Assisted Reproduction Technologies (ART) Bill, 2008 should be brought forth first before bringing in the surrogacy bill as surrogacy procedures cannot be conducted without assisted reproduction techniques and there is urgent need to regulate the ART clinics across the country.
Clause 2 (n) of the Bill deals with the definition of “human embryologist” which reads as:
“human embryologist” means a person who possesses any post-graduate medical qualification in the field of human embryology recognized under the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 or who possesses a post-graduate degree in human embryology from a recognized university with not less than two years of clinical experience;
However, what may comes as surprise, but should have been obvious to those who drafted the bill, is that there is no such specialisation of “human embryologist” that exists in India. The committee noted
During the examination of the Bill, the Committee’s attention was drawn to the fact that there is no degree given by the MCI designating as Human Embryologist….There is no university in India which offers a post-graduate medical qualification in the field of human embryology…
Noting the glaring obvious flaw, the committee then took a jibe at the expense of the Department of Health Research, the body responsible for the bill.
the Committee is surprised to observe the desultory approach of the Department while drafting the proposed Bill. Interestingly, there is no university offering medical courses across the country that confers the degree of human embryology. The Committee fails to understand how the Department would utilize the services of such specialty doctors in every corner of the country when these doctors do not exist. The Department does not have the data about number of clinical embryologists working in the country.
The Committee also noted that in the absence of a regulatory framework for assisted reproductive technology and surrogacy procedures, dearth of these specialty doctors would add to the plight of already suffering childless couples who would be prey to the physical, mental and financial exploitation in the name of these advanced reproductive medical science facilities. Therefore, the Committee asked Department to get their facts correct and collect information regarding the same and rephrase the definition of Human Embryologist also entailing the qualification of specialty doctors performing surrogacy and related procedures to avoid any kind of negligent and violatory incidents. Clause 2 (n) and other relevant clauses of the Bill was asked to be accordingly be modified.