Representative image | Photo: Mathrubhumi
Chennai: Tamil Nadu Health Minister Ma Subramanian told mediapersons on Thursday that the state government has ordered the closure of four fertility hospitals after a minor girl from Erode was forced to donate her oocytes.
An oocyte is an immature egg (an immature ovum). Oocytes develop to maturity from within a follicle. During each reproductive cycle, several follicles begin to develop.
The minister said that six hospitals were involved in the crime of which four are located in Tamil Nadu, and one each in Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. He said the hospitals in Tamil Nadu will be shut, while the state Health Secretary has been directed to write to his counterparts in the other states to initiate appropriate action.
The hospitals which have directed to close down are located in Salem, Krishnagiri and Erode on charges of violating the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Act and Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, based on an inquiry report which said the minor girl was forced to donate her oocytes.
Four persons, including the mother of the 16-year-old girl and her paramour, have been arrested on charges of forcing the girl to donate her Oocytes. The state health department had formed an inquiry committee headed by Viswanathan, Joint Director of Medical and Rural Health Services, and a final report was submitted on July 7.
Inquiries were conducted at the hospitals in Salem, Erode, Krishnagiri and Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala where the girl was taken forcibly.
The minister said that these hospitals have violated the provisions of law.
Subramanian said, "Commercial donation was going on at these hospitals where there were no qualified counselors. Also, the pros and cons of oocyte donation were also not explained to the minor girl."
He said the girl was forced to donate oocytes several times and even her Aadhaar card was not verified. Also, the approval needed to be obtained from the spouse in such cases was taken from some other person.
The minister said that according to the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Act, a donor aged between 21 and 35 years can donate oocytes once in her lifetime.
He said the hospitals have been given 15 days' time to discharge all the patients who are admitted there.
As per the Act, the hospitals can be fined up to Rs 50 lakh and the concerned doctors and other management staff may be handed 10 years' imprisonment, Subramanian said.