NEW DELHI: Months after the shocking case of a 74-year-old woman from Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, who delivered twins through in-vitro fertilisation, hit the headlines, the Centre has proposed to fix an age cap of 50 years for women opting for assisted reproductive techniques (ART) in the country.
Officials in the Union health and family welfare ministry told this newspaper that the draft ART bill, set to be taken to the Union Cabinet soon, proposes a maximum age of 50 years for women and 55 for men who are interested in achieving parenthood through ART.
“We expedited the bill as an urgent need to regulate the sector was felt in view of some recent cases that raised serious ethical questions. We are hoping to present the bill the current session of Parliament itself,” said a ministry official.
At present, there are no upper age limit for ART in the country though guidelines by the Indian Council of Medical Research say that the minimum age of women opting for such a procedure should be 20.
This left room for many geriatric couples to achieve parenthood in their 60s and even 70s.
Experts, however, said the previous version of the draft bill in 2017 and had age limits of 45 and 50 for women and men, respectively.
The revision in the age caps could be due to commercial reasons and lobbying by the stakeholders in the fertility industry, they claimed.
“While any pregnancy above 35 is high-risk, it’s even more so for women under ART. Therefore allowing such procedures till 50 or later seems unreasonable,” said Dr Shubhasri B of CommonHealth, a national level coalition.
“Also since the upper age limit of 45 years for prospective parents willing to adopt children of less than four years of age has been fixed on the ground of the child’s best interests, why should it be any different for people opting for ART?” she said.