ARTs and Women: Assistance in Reproduction or Subjugation?


2006 | Sama

As part of the health movement and the autonomous women’s movement, Sama has consistently campaigned against technologies that target women’s bodies whether to assist birth, control birth or facilitate the determination of the sex of the foetus. It has been involved in the campaigns against coercive population policies and contraceptive technologies like the injectables Depo-Provera and NET-EN in the family planning programme.  It has been increasingly evident that conceptive (or “assisted”) technologies lie on the same continuum as contraceptive technologies wherein both target women’s bodies by intervening and altering the physiological processes.

This report is based on the study that Sama undertook wherein ARTs are sought to be understood through a survey of literature, analysis of advertisements by ART clinics in the media and a review of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) National Guidelines for Accreditation, Supervision and Regulation of ART Clinics in India, 2005.  These were substantiated further by in-depth interviews conducted in Mumbai, Delhi and Hyderabad with providers of these technologies (gynaecologists, infertility specialists, embryologists) and women undergoing these procedures.  Additionally, the study also draws upon interviews with scientists as well as activists from various movements in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Delhi.  The research demonstrates how the ART industry cashes on the social stigma of infertility and the patriarchal pressures on women to have a biologically-related child at any cost.  The study foregrounds various social, ethical, physiological and psychological implications of the invasive use of ARTs on women’s bodies.

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