Several IVF centres have come under the government scanners for allegedly conducting illegal prenatal sex determination tests. In Vitro fertilisation is a procedure that has allowed many couples to conceive, people who’d never imagined they’d have children including Bollywood power couple Aamir Khan and Kiran Rao.
According to several accounts the Maharashtra State Health Department believes that some fertility centres are conducting illegal prenatal sex-determination tests. Till now only ultrasound centres were under the government’s scanner but now the public health department will keep an eye out for these wayward fertility centres as well. The department had sent out a letter to all civil surgeons and municipal commissioners to reveal the number of fertility centres operating under the jurisdiction in Dec 2011 however only 13 administrations have replied till now.
The Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act covers four types of health centres:
- Genetic counselling centres
- Genetic laboratories
- Genetic clinics
- USG and imaging centres.
IVF centres are currently not under the Act’s radar. The Indian Medical Association has also been roped in to help identify fertility experts who are running such dubious clinics. Activists have been crying hoarse about such centres for years, some of which allegedly separate X and Y chromosomes and provide male embryos on demand!
Some of them have even been booked for posting ads that claim to delivers sons. Dr Nandita Palshetkar, who has multiple IVF clinics in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai, said, “At a USG centre, a doctor alone performs the test and can divulge details about the sex of the embryo if he wants. But IVF clinics don’t have a sex determination test facility.” However, sources said that some IVF centres and genetic labs do have Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) facilities, which allows testing of the embryo before implantation and offer male babies for Rs 5-6 lakhs.