Birth of First Test Tube Baby (Louise Brown) - [July 25, 1978] This Day in History

On 25 July 1978, the world’s first human test-tube baby Louise Joy Brown was born at Oldham General Hospital in England. Know about the background of the conception of the first test-tube baby along with a brief introduction of IVF and Surrogation Bill for the IAS Exam.

First Test-Tube Baby – Historical Background

  • The IVF process that led to the conception of Louise Brown has hotly debated within medical and religious circles alike. IVF is still considered unethical by many religious groups, and the physicians who practise this method of fertilization continue to face accusations of “playing God.” Nonetheless, Since Louise’s birth in 1978, over 1 million children have been born using this procedure.

Important Facts for UPSC – Test Tube Baby

What is IVF?

  • In Vitro Fertilization is an assisted reproductive technology (ART) commonly referred to as IVF.
  • IVF is the process in which an egg is removed from a woman’s ovaries, harvested and fertilized with a male’s sperm in a laboratory, then implanted in the woman’s uterus where it develops to term.

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The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016

Highlights of the Bill

  • Surrogacy is an arrangement whereby an intending couple commissions a surrogate mother to carry their child.
  • The intending couple must be Indian citizens and married for at least five years with at least one of them being infertile.  The surrogate mother has to be a close relative who has been married and has had a child of her own.
  • No payment other than reasonable medical expenses can be made to the surrogate mother. The surrogate child will be deemed to be the biological child of the intending couple.
  • Central and state governments will appoint appropriate authorities to grant eligibility certificates to the intending couple and the surrogate mother.  These authorities will also regulate surrogacy clinics.
  • Undertaking surrogacy for a fee, advertising it or exploiting the surrogate mother will be punishable with imprisonment for 10 years and a fine of up to Rs 10 lakh.

Key Issues and Analysis

  • The Bill permits surrogacy only for couples who cannot conceive a child.  This procedure is not allowed in case of any other medical conditions which could prevent a woman from giving birth to a child.
  • The Bill specifies eligibility conditions that need to be fulfilled by the intending couple in order to commission surrogacy.  Further, it allows additional conditions to be prescribed by regulations.
  • The surrogate mother and the intending couple need eligibility certificates from the appropriate authority.  The Bill does not specify a time limit within which such certificates will be granted. It also does not specify an appeal process in case the application is rejected.
  • The surrogate mother must be a ‘close relative’ of the intending couple. The Bill does not define the term ‘close relative’.  Further, the surrogate mother (close relative) may donate her own egg for the pregnancy. This may lead to negative health consequences for the surrogate baby.
  • For an abortion, in addition to complying with the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, the approval of the appropriate authority and the consent of the surrogate mother is required. The Bill does not specify a time limit for granting such approval. Further, the intending couple has no say in the consent to abort.

Read in detail about the Surrogacy Regulation Bill for UPSC in the linked article.

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