With bans in major hubs – India, Nepal, and Thailand – and surrogacy moving into Cambodia, this article explores the underbelly in a country rushing to fill a gap, with no laws and little preparation. It quotes a representative from a prominent surrogacy agency in Australia, concerned by the rapid growth, lack of procedure, and the potential for harm to gestational mothers. This opinion is juxtaposed with the experiences of intended parents that have traveled to Cambodia, one of whom is concerned that excessive media attention will eventually force the government to enact unsympathetic regulation.
“There is no legislation protecting the rights of the surrogate, child or intended parents … The ban [in India] will push intended parents to engage in far riskier places like Cambodia, where there is a serious lack of medical support services, such as neonatal care units.” – Sam Everingham, Families through Surrogacy
This article follows surrogacy’s expansion into Cambodia, after recent legal crackdowns in the region. With ongoing legislative attempts in India as backdrop, it focuses on the rise of clinics originally from India and Nepal, the movement of gestational mothers from these countries as well as Laos and Thailand into Cambodia, and the implications on risks and the human rights of the women involved.
With commercial surrogacy banned in India, Nepal, and Thailand, this article takes a closer look at Cambodia as the next destination. It explores the legal and ethical status of the practice, concluding on a message of “buyer beware” as people considering surrogacy are warned about the risks of not being able to take children home or being charged with human trafficking.
Whether Malaysia passes a ban on surrogacy or not, would-be parents are likely to find ways to arrange births somewhere in Asia as the trade moves on.
After legal crackdowns in Thailand and Nepal, this article follows the regional growth of surrogacy in Malaysia and Cambodia, both of which “lack comprehensive legal frameworks to regulate” the practice. With a focus on Malaysia, the author explores the country’s attempts at legislation, including a draft federal law on assisted reproductive technologies.