Fertility experts have called for age restrictions to be placed on who can access in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) in India.
A law should be drawn up at the central level, the Indian Fertility Society (IFS) has said, which would prevent cases like that of 74-year-old Mangayamma Yaramati. She delivered twin daughters in Andhra Pradesh at a hospital in the Guntur district after undergoing IVF, reportedly becoming the world’s oldest birth mother. She and her husband, eighty-year-old Raja Rao were subsequently admitted to the hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU); Rao reportedly suffered a stroke or heart attack, though doctors have disputed this. The couple returned home with their newborn children on Sunday.
While the couple expressed happiness at being able to have children, that they were able to avail IVF in the first instance generated much controversy and was condemned by the IFS, the Indian Society of Associated Reproduction (ISAR), and the Academy of Clinical Embryologists. “We are deeply appalled to know about such unprofessional conduct of some health providers in misusing current Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) procedures,” the organisations said in a joint statement. “It is deplorable omission of ethics, morality and misuse of ART.”
This has led to calls to more stringently regulate the provision of ART procedures such as IVF. “[The] Government is yet to formulate a law to regulate the use of ART,” said IFS president Dr M. Gouri Devi. “The IFS has proactively issued directives to its members on this issue. We have appealed to infertility specialists in the country to apply their mind while imparting treatment and ensure only ethical practice while using the ART.”
After the birth, Devi pointed to the Artificial Reproductive Technology Bill, 2017 which says IVF should be offered to women between the ages of eighteen and 45. “If you look at the rules and regulations for couples in India who are looking to adopt a child, there is a rule that the combined age of the parents cannot be more than 100,” he said. “This is to ensure that the child is taken care of in case of the loss of life of one of the parents.”
Doctors have blamed loopholes and lack of clarity in the law and guidelines on how the procedure was allowed in the Andhra Pradesh case, thus necessitating legislation to be framed along the lines of what the IFS has called for.