22 May 2017 Cambodia Offers Vietnam Exit Plan for Families Stranded by Surrogacy Ban
The Cambodian government finally took action last month to resolve a legal quandary that trapped dozens of foreign couples and their unborn or newborn children in the country following its ban on commercial surrogacy in October 2016.
The Cambodian government’s plan will provide a limited time window, suggested by one official as nine months, 10 days, to resolve the families’ plight. The plan will require foreign parents of babies born to Cambodian surrogates to apply to their countries’ embassies, which will process documents, including DNA test results establishing a biological link between intended parents and child, for the Cambodian Foreign Affairs Ministry. The Ministry will submit the documents to the courts, the Cambodian Daily reports. The plan, which has been approved by Prime Minister Hun Sen, will cover children already born to Cambodian surrogates, as well as unborn babies who are currently being carried by surrogates.
Under Cambodian law, the surrogate who carries and gives birth to the baby is the child’s legal mother. If the surrogate is married, her husband is the child’s legal father.
Some families, desperate at the government’s delayed response, reportedly have already taken their children out through Vietnam, in violation of Cambodian law. The new announcement removes this restriction, and families will now be allowed to return home through Vietnam.
Cambodia is one of those places where the law, until recently, did not address surrogacy or assisted reproduction and where a booming industry in foreign surrogacy evolved. Seven months ago, when the government decided regulation was warranted, as so often happens, it banned commercial surrogacy altogether, throwing scores of families, already under surrogacy agreements, into chaos. This heartbreaking scenario playing out over the next weeks and months is another cautionary tale of the high emotional and financial costs of high-risk foreign surrogacy.