The Lok Sabha on Wednesday passed a Bill to regulate and oversee assisted reproductive technology clinics in the country. This includes in-vitro fertilisation centres as well as egg or sperm banks, the Hindustan Times reported.

The Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, 2020, proposes to set up a national registry of all clinics and professionals working in the field. It recommends strict punishment for those engaging in sale of human embryos and in the practice of sex selection.

Such offences may be punishable with up to 12 years in jail and a fine between Rs 10 lakh and Rs 20 lakh, the Hindustan Times reported. Hospitals and egg or sperm banks offering sex-selective services might be slapped with fines up to Rs 25 lakh.

Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said in the Lok Sabha that many assisted reproductive technology clinics in India were running unregulated.

“A need was felt for regulation of such clinics as there are implications on the health of those who undertake the [assisted reproductive] procedure,” Mandaviya said. “If there is no regulation, the unethical practices will increase.”

Meanwhile, Opposition MPs pointed out that single parents and lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender individuals in the country were excluded from the ambit of the Bill, The Indian Express reported.

“The bill only allows use of ART [assisted reproductive technology] 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,” Bahujan Samaj Party MP Sangeeta Azad said. She added that this was in violation of the right to equality guaranteed under Article 14 of the Constitution of India.

Congress MP Karti Chidambaram said that the Bill came out of a “Victorian and colonial mindset”. “This law excludes many people, rather than it includes,” he added.

Chidambaram also described the Bill as “patriarchal”, The Indian Express reported. “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,” the MP said. “A single woman cannot be a donor. Again, this reeks of patriarchy.”