Do we need regulation and more control in assisted reproduction? Sure. Nobody wants to start their family history with embryos of dubious origin being smuggled across borders. What are the chances of accessing the biological parents in case of need and are their rights and health protected? These are the questions we are asking #inthefertility on behalf of all potential clients travelling to have IVF abroad.
The most recent case of embryo smuggling involves a Malaysian national, who was allegedly found with a live human embryo in a canister concealed in his luggage on 16 March. On the top of it, this was not the first time he was travelling with someone’s potential daughter or son selling them to a private clinic in India.
Indian authorities are investigating a possible smuggling ring after tracing the communication towards a high-end clinic in Mumbai. Naturally, the clinic denied being involved and to make things worse, its owner blamed “the competitors”, which shed a very bad light on the industry.
As it is illegal to import embryos into India without a permit from the Indian Council of Medical Research, the case is now investigated and has the nagative attention of media.
Even though Dr Goral Gandhi, the embryologist running the investigated clinic denies the connection, according to the information from Times of India, a number of text messages which were found, back up the claims of the Malaysian national.
The case, in its own words and way, also answers the question if this type of medical intervention is based on the altruistic medical efforts to help the couples or if it is a business, often not respecting the law. As the lawyer of the above mentioned embryologist, Sujoy Kantawalla told the court: “The petitioner does not import embryos as part of her business.”
It is both important and the only right way to have a closer look at this and ask more question about the origin of eggs and embryos purchased abroad, because the easy access to “guaranteed pregnancy”, the discounts on their purchase resembling a furniture sale is often a huge temptation in the countries where legislation and reimbursement are bad, non existing, unballanced or simply unjust, such as the post code system in the UK.
As long as there are individuals harming the integrity of the industry and making the assisted reproduction technologies look bad, we need the tools to protect both the seller (no donors here) and the purchaser (no, they are not provided free of charge). And we need to use them. In case you are looking for more guidance on how to chose the clinic for yourself, check in-fertility advice here.