The need to provide protection for Sri Lankan surrogate mothers
Surrogacy, although an unfamiliar word to many Sri Lankans, has become a one popular medical practice across the world. Here, a woman (a surrogate mother) carries pregnancy on behalf of another couple. Surrogate mother can give birth to a child who is genetically hers or she can carry and deliver the child, who is genetically related to other persons. Surrogacy is a practice in Sri Lanka. Although it is quite difficult to obtain specific statistics, its popularity in Sri Lanka can be gathered based on information from the internet. Persons willing to contribute as egg or sperm donors, surrogate mothers and intended parents are creating web pages to publish their details. So, it is evident that Sri Lanka is an emerging surrogate destination that has ‘allowed’ the practice. There are no legal provisions to regulate this practice. Countries such as South Africa has a tough law. This is a main reason why foreigners come to Sri Lanka to seek a surrogate mother. And also, comparing to other countries, Sri Lanka is a cheap surrogate destination; they do not have to pay much money for these medical treatments. Sri Lanka is silent about commercial surrogacy which can eventually lead to exploitation of Sri Lankan women. Even though the private institutions collect an affidavit saying that “no consideration involved”, we can’t deny it happening. Further, the women who advertise themselves on websites say that, “this is for financial need”. Sometimes there can be other reasons like the generousity towards another couple or charitable intent. However, nobody can assure the real intention. It is accepted that the surrogate mothers are entitled to bodily autonomy, but, there are different factors which affect the consent of surrogate mothers such as persuasion by the husband or mother-in-law, financial constraints as well as lack of knowledge about the mental and physical consequences of surrogacy. So, the government should establish a regulatory mechanism neither to promote nor to slander, but to ensure the protection of surrogate mothers’ bodily autonomy, their safety and social protection. Furthermore, it is necessary to introduce minimum requirements to be surrogate mothers, such as: age limit with proven fertility, normal medical history and no medical contraindications to pregnancy, availability of specialist legal advice during the process and relevant insurance schemes and etc. Otherwise Sri Lanka will face a “baby farming” situation in the near future.
Author: DANUSHIKA LAKMALI ABEYRATNA