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Right To Privacy Of Single Mothers: Kerala HC Calls For Separate Forms For Registration Of Children Born Through Assisted Reproductive Technologies

Hannah M Varghese
16 Aug 2021 3:37 PM GMT
Right To Privacy Of Single Mothers: Kerala HC Calls For Separate Forms For Registration Of Children Born Through Assisted Reproductive Technologies
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The Kerala High Court recently held that requiring single women, who conceived through Assisted Reproductive Technologies, to furnish the father's name for registering the births and deaths of their children necessarily affects the right of dignity of the mother as well as the child. Justice Sathish Ninan while allowing the petition filed by a woman who conceived via IVF, held that...

The Kerala High Court recently held that requiring single women, who conceived through Assisted Reproductive Technologies, to furnish the father's name for registering the births and deaths of their children necessarily affects the right of dignity of the mother as well as the child. 

Justice Sathish Ninan while allowing the petition filed by a woman who conceived via IVF, held that the respondents shall immediately take necessary steps to provide separate forms for registration of births and deaths and for issuance of certificates for children born out of such conceptions.  

"The right of a single parent/ unwed mother to conceive by ART (Assisted Reproductive Technologies) having been recognized, prescriptions of forms requiring mentioning of the name of the father, the details of which is to be kept anonymous, is violative of their fundamental rights of privacy, liberty, and dignity," the Bench ruled.

This development came in a plea filed by a woman who conceived through IVF challenging the requirement to mention the father's details under the Kerala Registration of Births and Deaths Rules, 1970 

She had contended that leaving the field requiring the father's details blank on the certificate would infringe the right to privacy of the petitioner as well as her child since the fact that the child was born out of wedlock is intimate private information. 

Agreeing with the petitioner, the Court found that the right of a woman to make reproductive choices has been recognized in India as a fundamental right.

"Suffice to notice that, rights of a single woman to conceive through ART procedure is recognized and accepted in the country. Having conceived through ART procedure, the identity of the sperm donor cannot be disclosed except in circumstances as may be compelled for, under law. It falls within the realm of the right of privacy," the Single Bench pronounced.

Observing that this right was recognized in the guidelines for ART clinics with very few exceptions, the Court decided that there was no rhyme or reason in requiring the petitioner to provide the name of the father in the form prescribed for registration of birth and death.

"Requiring the petitioner to leave the column regarding the details of the father blank, the issuance of a certificate of birth or certificate of death leaving the space provided therein regarding the details of the father as blank, necessarily affects the right of dignity of the mother as well as the child," it was held.

As long as the right of a single woman/ unwed mother to conceive through ART procedures is recognized, the Court noted that the State is bound to provide appropriate forms for registration of births and deaths of children born through such procedures, and for issuance of birth/death certificates.

Since the petitioner was in the 8th month of her pregnancy, the court directed the State to "immediately" take necessary steps to have separate forms prescribed for registration of births and deaths and for issuance of certificates in cases relating to conception through ART procedure of single parent/ unwed mother.

To prevent misuse of such forms for settling scores in 'family feuds', the court said applicants can be asked to furnish an affidavit that she is a single parent/unwed mother conceived through ART procedure and produce along with the same a copy of the medical record in support thereof.

"To such applicants, a separate form, which does not contain the field regarding the name and other details of the father, shall be prescribed. In so far as certificate of death is concerned, it would suffice if in the column where the name of the father or husband is sought for, another entry could be made as that of the mother (like Father / Husband / Mother)," the Court ruled.

Case Title: X v. State of Kerala & Ors

Click Here To Read Order 


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