New humanitarian changes to surrogacy laws

March, 19/2016 - 09:00

Deputy Health Minister Nguyễn Việt Tiến told Tiền Phong (Vanguard) newspaper about the review of the law on surrogate pregnancies one year after it took effect.

Deputy Health Minister Nguyễn Việt Tiến told Tiền Phong (Vanguard) newspaper about the review of the law on surrogate pregnancies one year after it took effect.

More than 10 children have been born thanks to the new law. However, several issues required amendments to the law to meet the legitimate demands of couples who cannot have children of their own. For example, only couples without children are currently eligible under the law. However, there are couples who have children that were disabled during medical intervention at birth, not because of hereditary diseases or genetics. Some women suffer injuries during birth that leave them infertile. In such cases, it is legitimate for couples to have more children using surrogacy. I think it is humanitarian to modify the regulations to meet the legitimate desires of such couples.

Is the surrogacy technique difficult and can it be carried out at obstetric centres?

Couples need the option of surrogacy because some women, for health reasons, are physically incapable of having children. For example, women who have ovaries but were born without a womb or have a damaged womb. In other cases, women suffer from severe diseases relating to blood pressure, heart or liver disease, which puts them at increased risk during the surrogacy process. Therefore, the surrogacy process is not like other reproductive support techniques. It requires highly skilled techniques and should not be carried out by untrained practitioners at unlicensed healthcare establishments.

Do you think an illegal surrogacy market exists?

I can confirm that there have been illegal cases of surrogacy where people failed to complete the necessary legal procedures. But I am sure there are not many cases like this, and those that choose the illegal route face great risks. People are not allowed to go it alone and absolutely should not take that path.

Hiring a stranger for a commercial purpose will result in bad consequences if the case is unsuccessful. Even if it succeeds, there are additional problems such as surrogate mothers asking for more money, causing trouble and even demanding the return of their child. This is because cases of illegal surrogacy are not certified by the legal authorities and lack a legal basis.

An important thing that couples intending to use illegal surrogacy services should remember is that such unlicensed health establishments will not be good and the chance of unpredictable accidents is high.

I admit that surrogacy procedures are quite complicated, but the more complicated they are, the fewer cases of surrogacy for commercial purposes there will be.

Do you think strict regulations on surrogacy procedures will help prevent surrogacy for financial gain?

I think with strict regulations on surrogacy, it will be more difficult to carry out surrogacy for commercial purposes. For eligible couples, both sides (the intending couple and the surrogate mother) have to sign a civil contract drawn up by lawyers.

In particularly, in addition to specific regulations, they have to be certified to have a close kinship, and are allowed to engage in surrogacy only once.

These regulations create barriers to prevent surrogacy for financial gain.

Some couples could not find any surrogate mothers as regulated by law. Does the law need to be modified to allow such couples a chance to experience parenthood?

I still do not believe that. There is nothing to prevent people who are willing to be surrogate mothers, like those who voluntarily donate internal organs. However, if we are not careful, we could introduce a loophole that would allow some people to commercialise surrogacy. Therefore, I still do not think it a good idea to amend the law to help those who cannot find eligible surrogates as regulated.

Which hospitals are allowed to carry out surrogacy?

In the first period, only three hospitals are allowed to carry out surrogacy procedures for humanitarian purposes, including the National Hospital of Obstetrics and Gynecology in Hà Nội, the General Hospital in Huế City, and the Từ Dũ Obstetrics Hospital in HCM City.

After one year of implementing the law, the Ministry of Health will review the results and allow other healthcare establishments to carry out surrogacy. — VNS