The issue of surrogacy in Cambodia is becoming even more complicated, as a recent edict from the government has formally banned the practice. Underground surrogacy centres still thrive however, posing health and legal dangers to all involved.
The Courier reports on an Australian parliamentary committee’s investigation into the situation in Cambodia:
An Australian parliamentary committee found in April an average 250 couples who had exhausted all other options to have a child travel overseas each year to enter into arrangements with surrogate mothers, despite the fact that doing so is an offence in Queensland, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.
The committee noted that the legal, economic and social conditions in countries with weak regulatory systems raised concerns about “unethical agencies effectively trafficking in children.” The committee also held concerns for the rights of the birth mother:
The committee found the birth mother may also be vulnerable to exploitation, health risks and pressure to undergo risky procedures to which she may not otherwise consent, including multiple embryo transfers, caesarean deliveries and abortions.
In light of these findings, the Australian government has advised couples not to go abroad in search of surrogacy agencies.
"We strongly caution Australians to consider all legal and other risks involved in pursuing international surrogacy," the advice says. "You should be aware that the regulatory environment in a host country may change without warning," it said.
"The absence of rules and regulations governing surrogacy in some countries should not be seen as condoning commercial surrogacy ... the risks of entering into such arrangements in less regulated markets are high."
Surrogacy is not only a dangerous practice; it is also a dehumanising practice. By subjecting impoverished women to it, they become factories and their children become commodities. Even as proponents of same-sex marriage make the push for commercial surrogacy to become legal in Australia, we need to remain vigilant, and refuse to allow the practice to enter our country.