PHNOM PENH —
Cambodian officials have said they are drafting a new law governing surrogacy after shutting down the service last year.
They have not confirmed whether the practice will be legalized by the new law.
The draft law was initiated after the authorities arrested an Australian woman and two Cambodians last year who were arranging surrogacy services in Cambodia.
The Phnom Penh Municipal Court remanded the trio into pre-trial detention at Prey Sar prison.
Mam Bunheng, the health minister, told VOA Khmer declined to comment on whether the practice of surrogacy would be legalized by the new legislation.
“The most important thing is to prevent human trafficking and to do whatever we can to curb the trafficking,” he said.
Chum Sounry, foreign affairs spokesman, told reporters after Prak Sokhon, minister of foreign affairs, met a representative of the United Nations Population Fund last Thursday that the new regulations would in fact legalize surrogacy.
However, when contacted by VOA Khmer he would not confirm the statement.
Chou Bun Eng, secretary of state at the ministry of interior, said the new law aimed to address the gaps in the law identified when the arrests were made last year.
“As for legalization, we have to wait until the law is enacted. But this would not mean that we would give full rights to the so-called surrogacy services in Cambodia to export babies,” she said.
Tammy Davis-Charles, the founder of Fertility Solutions PGD Clinic, moved her surrogacy business from Thailand to Cambodia after the Thai junta closed the service down in 2015.
Her clinic charged customers some $50,000, paying surrogate mothers between $10,000 and $12,000.
Ros Sopheap, director of Gender and Development for Cambodia, said she opposed the legalization of surrogacy because it would make Cambodian women vulnerable to exploitation.
“If we look at the surface, we see that women benefit from this. But if we look and analyze deeper, they do not receive anything because we figure it out when they deliver the baby. Khmer people say delivering the baby is very risky. It is life and death,” she said.