In Lok Sabha on Wednesday, the opposition members attacked the government for removing live-in couples, LGBTQ community, and single men from the extent of the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, 2021, charging the legislation as “discriminatory” and “patriarchal”.
Karti P Chidambaram who is a Congress member opened the debate on the Bill, stated, “This law is not a Hindu law, it is actually a Victorian law.”
He certainly invoked the Mahabharata and the Puranas many times, stating, “Our epics have so many instances of unconventional births.”
“This law has not come from the Hindu liberal traditions. This law has come from the completely regressive, Victorian, and colonial mindset. I will tell you why. This law excludes many people, rather than it includes. 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,” Karti Chidambaram mentioned further adding that the bill is “discriminatory”.
Karti stated, “This law does not take into account the new realities of India. Of course, these new realities are not new realities. These were there in our ancient scriptures. Those unions which were always there, were suppressed by the colonial mentality. These unions must also be given access to this technology. The LGBTQ population, live-in couples, and single men must also have access to this technology if they want so.”
Explaining the bill as “patriarchal”, Karti mentioned, “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 reek of patriarchy.”
“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,” stated Karti who solely represents Sivaganga constituency in Tamil Nadu.
“This is a government which professes to draw inspiration from our puranas, from our ‘ithigaasam’ (history), and from our epics,” Karti stated while referring to the Prime Minister’s remarks about proof of plastic surgery and Lord Ganesha having an elephant head.
He even raised questions about provisions that are related to maintaining the privacy of donors. “You want the Aadhaar card for the donor because you want to identify the donor through that Aadhaar card. But the donor has to be anonymous. What if there is a leak of data,” he further asked.
While the debate on the bill was going on, the House stayed in order and saw no disruption.
Supporting the Bill, BJP’s Hina V Gavit stated assisted technology of reproduction has stayed unregularized for a long time in the nation.
“Initially, assisted reproductive technology came on humanitarian ground to assist those couples who are infertile and who cannot have their own children. But, unfortunately, over a period of time, a lot of commercialization has taken place. Hence, we need the regulation of the Bill,” stated by Gavit who represents Nandurbar constituency in Maharashtra.
Gavit even stated that celebrities and the rich certainly “misuse” surrogacy.
“We see these days a lot of celebrities using surrogacy to have children and many celebrities who have already had their biological children are also going for these surrogacies. This Bill will definitely ensure that people who are in need, the couples who are infertile, can avail the benefits of ART and just because somebody has lots of money and does not want to carry a pregnancy can go for this. I think these things will also be checked upon by this bill,” Gavit stated.
Gavit recommended that instead of having a medical person as a member of the board under Section 12 of the Bill, a renowned gynecologist or an obstetrician must be included.
Dr Gautham SigamaniPon of DMK stated about the powers given to the national and state boards under this certain Bill.
“As a DMK member I am concerned about the state powers… The present government has taken the sole responsibility of regulating the emerging field. This obsession of this government is very established now,” stated by the MP, who represents Kallakurichi seat in Tamil Nadu.
Dr Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar (Barasat, West Bengal) of TMC stated, “the country had been waiting for a long time for legislation on assisted reproductive technology because nearly 60 million people in the country suffered from infertility.” She even highlighted the removal of single parents and LGBTQ people from the ambit of the bill.
“The major exclusion here is exclusion of single parents, transgenders and LGBT couples… They also have a right to become parents…,” Dastidar added.
She stated that the Bill supports large companies.
“They have come into India, mostly international corporates. It will support them because the international corporates, they will be using foolhardy gullible patients…,” Dastidar stated.
“The board must be manned by the people who know the subject; the bank has to be completely abolished unless it is associated with an IVF laboratory and manned by the people who actually know the subject,” the MP mentioned.
YSRCP’s Dr B V Satyavathi inaugurated the legislation and stated that it would certainly bring about the registration of all such clinics.
JD (U)’s Dr Alok Kumar Suman, who represents Gopalganj in Bihar, stated that the Bill is a significant step for the welfare of women. Suman even recommended that the cost of ART must be regulated nicely so that the common citizens can avail of the technology.
BSP’s Sangeeta Azad (Lalganj, Uttar Pradesh) stated that the Bill would be an important step in prohibiting trade that is illegal in the field of ending social malpractices and even surrogacy. But she even highlighted that the Bill do not allow LGBTQ people to avail of ART.
“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,” Azad stated.
NCP’s (Baramati, Maharashtra) SupriyaSule was eager to ask the health minister about how the Surrogacy Bill and the ART Bill would complement each other.
“Besides the couples who want children, there is a cross-section of single people in this country today who want to have children, especially the LGBTQ community and single fathers… Because of the 2017 adoption rule, single men cannot adopt a girl and because they cannot have this, they can not avail this, Bill. I think this is something we as a society need to introspect on,” Sule stated.