The fertility industry is a major part of India’s medical tourism industry thanks to the low costs and lack of regulations. According to some reports India’s fertility industry is worth a whopping Rs 13,033 cr (1.5 billion pounds / 2.4 billion dollars) and Britain is our most popular client. India’s turning into the surrogacy capital of the world according to the report.
While there is no official data available about the number of fertility clinics, the Indian Council of Medical Research has identified 886 such clinics across the country. However, unconfirmed reports from various sources suggest that at least 50 such clinics are added every year.
The recent movie, Vicky Donor might have popularised sperm donation and given all Artificial Reproduction Techniques (ART) a shot in the arm. However, the reality about sperm donation and surrogacy remains a far grimmer one. The lack of guidelines and an emasculated ICMR allows fertility clinics to brazenly disregard all the rules, regulations and protocols of ARTs.
One needs to know the side-effects of certain ART procedures – giving heavy doses of hormones to woman to make her ovulate can have an adverse effect on her health, experts say. The doctors ideally require informed consent for any such procedures. However, it is merely treated as a formality and is either not signed or signed by a proxy.
Practices like sex selection, multiple embryo implantations and inducement of pregnancy in post-menopausal women is common. Though the Preconception and Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act (1994) 2003 prohibits sex selection, the practice is rampant. There’s a need for people to become more aware about the rules and regulations of ARTs and more stringent guidelines to clamp down on illegal practices.