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Surrogacy to be legal

Ros Chanveasna / Khmer Times Share:
Lene Kroll Christiansen with Prak Sokhonn at the ministry yesterday. Supplied

Authorities are preparing a draft law to make surrogacy legal with a range of protections for the women and babies involved.
News of the move emerged yesterday after a meeting between Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn and newly appointed United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) representative to Cambodia Lene Kroll Christiansen.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Chum Sounry said Mr. Sokhonn told Ms. Christiansen about the surrogacy development.
“Cambodian government relevant institutes are preparing to draft a new law to make surrogacy legal in order to control and prevent Cambodian children who are born via surrogacy from becoming victims,” Mr. Sounry said.
Sok Somoni, a cabinet chief in the Women’s Affairs Ministry, confirmed that discussions about surrogacy were taking place, but declined to say more.
Surrogacy has been a controversial issue in the region and has been banned by India, Nepal and Thailand.
It is not specifically covered by Cambodia’s Criminal Code, but cases have been caught up in provisions of the law on human trafficking.
In November, Australian Tammy Davis-Charles who ran Fertility Solutions PGD was arrested along with a Cambodian nurse and a Commerce Ministry official.
All are being held pending trial on charges of seeking false documents and acting as intermediaries between the would-be parents and pregnant women.
Ros Socheap, the executive director of Gender and Development for Cambodia NGO, said: “I don’t see any benefit for surrogate mothers.
“My personal opinion is that this law will not benefit Cambodian women who are hired to be surrogates by other people, especially rich people.
“In Cambodia, surrogacy will target women from low-income families and low education.
“They don’t understand the meaning of the agreement when they decide to be surrogates, thus they will be at high risk of harm.
“Surrogate mothers will get only a short-term benefit from the money,” she added.
“On the other hand, their husbands will get angry with those surrogate women. They will accuse them of having sex to be a surrogate.
“It will affect the emotions and trust between husband and wife. They will face family tension.
“For example, if a baby born via surrogacy has abnormalities and the people who wanted the baby flee, who is responsible?
“The surrogate mother will have to take care of these babies. It is another burden for these women.”
Ms. Socheap said this had happened in the US, where surrogacy is legal in some states, and in India and Nepal.
At the meeting with Mr. Sokhonn, Ms. Christiansen said she would pay special attention to helping pregnant women whose lives are at risk during childbirth.
Especially, she would focus on projects to reduce the maternal death rate during childbirth in Cambodia.
Mr. Sounry said the UNFPA was giving Cambodia about $24 million between 2016 and 2018 for sexual and reproductive health programs for young people.

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