Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Surrogacy exit plan still in works



Surrogacy exit plan still in works

Chou Bun Eng (centre) holds a meeting last month to discuss the implementation of surrogacy exit guidelines. Photo supplied
Chou Bun Eng (centre) holds a meeting last month to discuss the implementation of surrogacy exit guidelines. Photo supplied

Surrogacy exit plan still in works

An exit strategy for babies born to Cambodian surrogates is still being ironed out by government officials, a month after guidelines to facilitate their safe passage from the Kingdom were announced.

Seemingly adding yet another layer to what some intended parents have deemed an already-complicated bureaucratic process, Cambodian ministry officials met on Friday to discuss their “procedures” for processing applications.

The exit strategy was developed after a sudden crackdown on surrogacy, with a Health Ministry directive labelling the practice illegal in Cambodia.

Surrogacy agencies had flocked to the Kingdom after similar crackdowns in India, Nepal and Thailand, with many now moving into Laos. The government laid out a plan last month to allow babies already born via surrogacy to leave – a plan that involved arranging a DNA test, a court appearance, a birth certificate, a passport and trips to various ministries.

Chou Bun Eng, vice chair of the Committee for Counter Trafficking in Persons, yesterday said officials from the ministries of interior and foreign affairs would develop their own processes, which would then be discussed in two weeks to ensure their strategies were coherent.

Several parents have already whisked their children across borders without going through the Cambodian court system, which Bun Eng said was “illegal” and amounted to “human trafficking”. “We are trying to protect the interests of the babies,” she said. “Our Cambodian surrogate women are not smart, just let [the intended parents] do whatever they want. Foreign parents are the ones who created the problem and we are the ones who solve it.”

Sam Everingham, of Families Through Surrogacy in Australia, said a transitional agreement was urgently needed as Cambodian surrogates were giving birth every week, and that Thailand, India and Nepal had acted on this promptly.

“As Cambodia continues to debate this, newborns risk being left stranded or their parents resorting to desperate measures to take them home, once their surrogate has given up parental responsibility,” he said.

Bun Eng acknowledged the process was difficult, but chastised the impatience of parents.

“We told them to wait but they cannot wait. How urgent is it that they cannot wait for our procedures?” she said.

The legal exit strategy will be closed to foreign parents in January 2018, she said.

Additional reporting by Erin Handley

MOST VIEWED

  • Kingdom's Covid cluster cases jump to 194

    The Ministry of Health on February 25 confirmed 65 new cases of Covid-19, with 58 linked to the February 20 community transmission. The latest cluster cases include nine Vietnamese nationals, five Cambodians, one each from Korea, Singapore and Japan, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total number

  • Locations shut, dozens more Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health has closed 23 locations in connection with the February 20 community transmission of Covid-19 and summoned for testing anyone who had direct contact with affected people and places. The number of discovered related infections has risen to 76, including 39 women. In a press release,

  • Cambodia's Covid cluster cases rise to 137

    The Ministry of Health on February 24 recorded 40 more cases of Covid-19, with 38 linked to the February 20 community transmission. Of the 40, two are imported cases involving Chinese passengers. The 38 include two Vietnamese nationals and one Cambodian, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total cases

  • Covid cluster raises alarm, health bodies urge vigilance

    The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia have expressed great concern over the February 20 cluster transmission of Covid-19 in the community. Both entities appealed for vigilance and cooperation in curbing further spread of the virus. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said

  • PM confirms third Covid-19 community transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on February 20 announced the Kingdom's third outbreak of Covid-19 community transmission after 32 people tested positive in just over 10 hours. Addressing the public from his residence after an emergency meeting, Hun Sen said: "I dub it February 20 Community Event, in which 32 cases

  • Cambodia to make auto-rickshaws

    Locally-assembled electric auto-rickshaws could hit the Cambodian market as soon as early in May after the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) gave the greenlight to an investment project at the weekend. According to a CDC press release, it will issue a final registration