Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Stronger surrogacy law anticipated

Stronger surrogacy law anticipated

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Australian national and surrogacy agent Tammy Davis-Charles hides her face as she is escorted from the Phnom Penh court. Hong Menea

Stronger surrogacy law anticipated

All forms of surrogacy are banned in Cambodia as the government continues to mull draft legislation to further restrict or end the practice entirely by next year.

Cambodia’s National Anti-Human Trafficking Committee vice-chair Chou Bun Eng told Al Jazeera that the government is “still thinking about how to make the new law or the amendment to the law consistent with the existing law”.

Bun Eng also said the new legislation aims to encompass every aspect of surrogate practice including in vitro fertilisation, sperm banks and the sale of breast milk.

Sam Everingham, the founder of Families Thru Surrogacy, a not-for-profit Australian organisation which aims to inform contracting parents about issues related to surrogacy including best practices, said he anticipates that the government will ban surrogacy as a whole.

“We’re hoping Cambodia moves to put some laws in place to overcome this uncertainty. It would be good for all parties to have some laws in place. In the current legal vacuum, it’s very hard for people to know what’s happening and what’s going to happen,” he said.

The government issued a prakas banning commercial surrogacy (while allowing altruistic practices), as reported by The Post in November 2016.

However, after the high-profile Tammy Davis Charles arrest in Phnom Penh weeks later uncovered an underground network of fertility agencies, clinics, impoverished surrogate mothers and Chinese nationals who contracted their services, the government banned the practice while it worked to ratify the law to curb abuse.

High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia (OHCHR) country representative Simon Walker said: “In Asia, there’s been a transformation in the [global surrogacy] phenomenon because of changes in legislation. As bans moved from one country to another, interest has moved [with them].

“India banned [commercial] surrogacy, then Thailand banned it and it moved to Cambodia. Cambodia banned it and it moved to Laos . . . so we see a migration of demand in Southeast Asia.”

‘Very different approaches’

Davis Charles operated a fertility clinic in Bangkok before shifting her services to Phnom Penh. Thailand banned commercial surrogacy in 2016 and does not allow foreigners to engage in “altruistic” services.

Meanwhile, India which took a near identical approach to the issue as Thailand, passed The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill 2016 this month.

Under the law, only prospective heterosexual Indian parents who have been married for five years may commission a “close relative” of the couple without financial compensation (except medical bills).

“There are very different approaches and not necessarily a clear thread of logic from country to country. It’s difficult to say what will happen in Cambodia. There’s no human rights position as such on surrogacy. There’s no right to surrogacy – no right to protection from surrogacy. So we look at a series of human rights [cases] in relation to the main people involved,” Walker said.

Everingham, who has two children of his own via international surrogacy, said the only position that makes sense is to entirely ban both compensated and non-compensated forms of surrogacy.

“It doesn’t really seem viable to have an altruistic model in Cambodia when most of the Cambodian population doesn’t even understand surrogacy,” Everingham said.

MOST VIEWED

  • NY sisters inspired by Khmer heritage

    Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Cambodian-American sisters Edo and Eyen Chorm have always felt a deep affinity for their Cambodian heritage and roots. When the pair launched their own EdoEyen namesake jewellery brand in June, 2020, they leaned heavily into designs inspired by ancient Khmer

  • Cambodia records first Omicron community case

    The Ministry of Health on January 9 reported 30 new Covid-19 cases, 29 of which were imported and all were confirmed to be the Omicron variant. The ministry also reported 11 recoveries and no new deaths. Earlier on January 9, the ministry also announced that it had detected the Kingdom's

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • PM eyes Myanmar peace troika

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has suggested that ASEAN member states establish a tripartite committee or diplomatic troika consisting of representatives from Cambodia, Brunei and Indonesia that would be tasked with mediating a ceasefire in Myanmar. The premier also requested that Nippon Foundation chairman Yohei Sasakawa

  • Kampot tourism quay ‘90% done’

    Construction on Kampot International Tourism Port – a 4ha quay in Teuk Chhou district about 6km west of Kampot town – has fallen off track, reaching 90 per cent completion, according to a senior Ministry of Tourism official last week. The project is now planned to be finished

  • Demining rat ‘hero’ Magawa dead at 8

    A landmine-hunting rat that was awarded a gold medal for heroism for clearing ordnance from the Cambodian countryside has died, his charity said on January 11. Magawa, a giant African pouched rat originally from Tanzania, helped clear mines from about 225,000sqm of land – the equivalent of 42