Cambodia has become the latest South East Asian nation to ban commercial surrogacy, with the country’s government issuing a proclamation late last month outlawing the practice.
The Cambodian health ministry distributed a letter this week to about 50 surrogacy providers and brokers operating in Phnom Penh, informing them of the new ban and asking all medical professionals to comply with the injunction.
“Surrogacy, one of a set of services to have a baby by assisted reproductive technology, is completely banned,” the letter said.
The ministry said commercial sperm donation is also banned and clinics and specialist doctors providing in-vitro fertilisation services will require ministry permission to operate.
The government did not specify what, if any, penalties would be incurred for violating the ban.
Sam Everingham, global director of the consultancy Families Through Surrogacy, slammed the “abrupt” ban and said it would likely trigger panic among expectant parents and surrogates now facing an uncertain future. “This sudden change does no favours to surrogates or children given the lack of information and lack of clarity,” he told AFP.
The Cambodian ban will likely increase surrogacy costs globally, driving foreigners to countries like Ukraine, Georgia, Greece, Canada and the US which have protective laws in place. However surrogacy costs in the US can be as high as $200,000 while agencies charge far less in developing countries like Cambodia.