FOREIGN couples in Cambodia may soon be allowed to return home with babies conceived from surrogates as the government looks to reverse last year’s ban on the ‘womb for rent’ business.
According to AFP (via The Star), an official on Monday said the restriction on commercial surrogacy and the government’s refusal to issue birth certificates for babies looks set to change after Prime minister Hun Sen approved an “exit strategy” allowing babies who were born to — or being carried by — surrogates before the ban to leave.
The Interior Ministry’s Secretary of State Chou Bun Eng said Hun Sen had also signed off on the guidelines with details on the matter expected to be released within two days.
“We will allow parents who have surrogate babies born (before the ban) to take them out,” she was quoted as saying.
In order to claim their babies, Chou said foreign couples will be required to show a DNA match and that the surrogate’s husband must declare that the baby did not belong to him.
“We also need the parents to say why they have asked others to carry babies for them,” Chou added.
“We will facilitate the process and will not create any difficulty for the parents,” she said.
Another ministry official Ran Serey Leakhena was quoted by the Phnom Penh Post as saying while the guidelines allowed babies born to surrogate mothers to leave the country without intended parents facing prosecution, surrogacy companies and brokers, however, could still face legal penalties.
Parents tempted to take their children out of Cambodia illegally were also warned that they could face criminal charges.
Surrogacy agencies have mushroomed in Cambodia in recent years following bans in India and Thailand resulting from a slew of scandals and concerns about child exploitation.
With cheap medical costs and lack of laws excluding gay couples and single parents, those opting for surrogacy births have turned to Cambodia which has absorbed much of the demand.
In November, 49-year-old Tammy Davis-Charles — was arrested for allegedly running an illegal surrogacy service in the Southeast Asian nation — making arrangements for nearly two dozen Cambodian women to carry babies for couples from Australia.