Surrogacy should be legalised but kept under tight control
Last week, Viet Nam News asked readers whether surrogacy should be legalised and, if so, what legal conditions should be used to protect the rights of babies and surrogate mothers – and how to settle disputes between natural and host mothers.
Antonia Miolo, Australian, Sydney
I believe surrogacy is a wonderful tool for couples unable to carry their own child. If there is a woman willing to carry another couples' child and there is a couple in need then I do not see why there should be any law prohibiting this action from taking place.
Officials in the tourism industry in Viet Nam agree that the shortage of public restrooms at tourist destinations in the country is bad for the industry's development.
Investment in public restrooms is one of the tourism sector's major goals. By the end of this year, at least 50 per cent of tourist destinations are expected to have improved restrooms.
Explaining the delay in building restrooms at tourist sites and destinations, some local authorities say that since there are no set standards for tourist toilets, they cannot implement the plan.
How serious is a lack of proper restrooms for a country's tourism industry? What would be a suitable standard for restrooms at tourist sites given Viet Nam's economic and cultural characteristics? Which of Viet Nam's tourist sites and destinations do you see as in dire need of tourist restrooms?
Please reply by email to: email@example.com, or by fax to (84-4) 3 933 2311. Letters can be sent to The Editor, Viet Nam News, 11 Tran Hung Dao Street, Ha Noi. Replies to next week's questions must be received by Thursday morning, September 6.
But there are important factors to consider. I think all parties should begin counselling to make sure they are the right candidates for this type of process. There should be laws protecting the genetic parents – and laws and regulations to protect the carrier, such as all medical expenses.
Strict guidelines can be set up to guide the process if needs be. Any disputes should be ironed out before the process is underway. To settle any disputes after birth, there should already be ironclad papers drawn up and signed by both parties.
Procedures should follow federal law and agencies who link couples with carriers should conduct thorough examinations on all involved before introducing them. Background police checks, medical history and current socio-economic status should be known for example.
As far as I know surrogacy is legal in Australia, although it is a highly regulated process. Each state in Australia has its own laws to which all parties involved must follow.
Hung Nguyen, Vietnamese, Ha Noi
More couples in Viet Nam now depend on infertility treatments to have children. One of those treatments is gestational surrogacy, which is banned here. I think the law should be amended to allow surrogacy because it's a natural right.
Couples who cannot have children will actively seek treatments for their problem. If gestational surrogacy is their only solution, they should have the right to use that treatment.
Moreover, it's always better to allow and manage some reasonable demand than ban it. If governments try to ban this treatment, couples will find loopholes to carry out the treatment secretly. This will create more social problems.
It's important that surrogacy be legalised. Rules can be added, such as defining who can be a surrogate mother – and if there should be limits on the number of times they can do so? Should they be asked to buy some kind of insurance?
The couples who pay for the surrogacy need to sign a contract, which must be notarised by authorised people. I hope this will protect the rights of babies and women bearing them as well as settle disputes between couples and surrogates.
Arti Samkaria, Indian, Delhi
Gestational surrogacy is not banned in India or regulated by any laws. However, guidelines have been set down by the Indian Council of Medical Research to ensure that contracts are signed.
Assisted Reproductive Technology procedures were covered in council guidelines seven years ago. Specifically, surrogacy arrangements governed by contracts require the consent of a woman to bear a child, the agreement of her husband and other family members, her agreement to artificial insemination, reimbursement for carrying the child to full term and willingness to hand over the child to the commissioning parents.
A surrogacy arrangement should provide financial support for the surrogate child in the event of death of the commissioning couple (or individual) before delivery of the child, or divorce between the intended parents and subsequent willingness of none to take delivery of the child. A contract should cover life insurance for the surrogate mother.
Legislation should recognise a surrogate child to be the legitimate child of the commissioning parent(s) without there being any need for adoption or even declaration of guardianship.
The birth certificate of the surrogate child should contain the name(s) of the commissioning parent(s) only. Sex-selective surrogacy should be prohibited.
There are no stipulations as to what will happen if the contract is violated. A few years ago, a baby girl named Manji was born to an Indian surrogate. In this case, the arrangement got sticky not because the surrogate wanted to keep the baby but because the Japanese couple who were the intended parents had divorced.
The husband still wanted to raise Manji, but his ex-wife did not. However, India requires that a child be legally adopted before leaving the country, but bars single men from adopting. Manji's father was denied travel documents for the baby. The situation was widely covered in Indian and global media, and grew into a legal and diplomatic crisis.
Manji was eventually permitted to leave for Japan, but the debate within India about surrogacy has continued. Women's rights groups and other NGOs are calling for more specific and stricter regulations on this issue.
Shin Pham, Vietnamese, Ha Noi
I do not think Viet Nam should allow gestational surrogacy because there are too many risks involved. A surrogate can be a woman who is implanted with sperm and eggs of a couple, or she can even be a woman who has sex with the husband of a couple.
What happens if a surrogate does not want to give back a child? Or what should a wife do if her husband falls in love with a surrogate? What if a surrogate has a baby and no one comes to claim responsibility because the "parents" have just decided to divorce?
Maybe many women will become surrogates because of the huge profits they can make and will stop working.
Nhu Tran, Russian, Moscow
The number of couples with fertility problems is increasing so it is necessary to work out legal regulations covering surrogacy sooner or later. In Russia, the basis for legal regulation of assisted reproduction is the basic law for health protection: each woman of childbearing age has the right to artificial fertilisation and implantation of an embryo.
Medical reasons for surrogacy include absence of uterus; uterine cavity or cervix deformity; uterine cavity synechia; somatic diseases contra-indicating child bearing; and repeated failure of in-vitro fertilisation attempts. The name of the surrogate mother is not listed on the birth certificate.
Commercial surrogacy has never been prohibited by law in Russia. The surrogate can be compensated for medical and travel expenses and missed time from work – plus remuneration for her services.
With these specific regulations, Russia sometimes is called a reproductive paradise. Viet Nam should consider these regulations as reference.
Ha Anh, Vietnamese, Ha Noi
I see no reason to refuse people's wishes to have babies through surrogacy. If we keep banning surrogacy, we are denying a basic right.
Regulations should state that parent(s) looking for a surrogate mother should prove they have no chance of having children on their own; the surrogate should be a family member or introduced. The rights and tasks of the parties should be outlined in a contract witness by relevant authorities. — VNS