Desperate couples turning to international surrogacy as a way to become parents may now face jail time thanks to changes to the law introduced in Cambodia last week.
Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald a Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson confirmed, “Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has formally advised the Australian Government that the act of commercial surrogacy, or commissioning commercial surrogacy, is prohibited in Cambodia”.
Following the formal warning and clamp down, biological parents of babies born via a surrogate face hefty fines and possibly imprisonment for human trafficking.
International surrogacy in Cambodia is under threat after high profile adoption issues like that of baby Gammy in Thailand. Source: 60 Minutes.
The crackdown comes following the highly publicised failed surrogacy of baby Gammy, which involved an Australian couple refusing to take their son (who was born with a twin sister in 2013 via a Thai surrogate) home due to him being born with Down Syndrome.
The event also highlighted issues with the international screening process, with the father of the twin babies found to be a convicted pedophile.
Baby Gammy's parents David Farnell and Wendy Li. Source: 60 Minutes.
Following a number of high profile cases such as Gammy's, international surrogacy was made illegal in Thailand, Nepal and India, but many IVF doctors, lawyers and agencies working with international couples have simply moved to Cambodia's capital, Phnom Penh, to continue operating.
And while the issue has been largely ignored until recently, the growing number of agencies advertising their services has forced Cambodian officials to act.