Sunday, January 8, 2017

Cambodia still has a long way to play out

The sorry tale that is surrogacy in Cambodia still has a long way to play out- if only because there are foreigners, including Australians whose surrogates were just pregnant before the Cambodian government a couple of months ago decided to ban all forms of surrogacy there.

As I have said repeatedly, when it comes to surrogacy there are sharks in the water. Quite simply, when there are people desperate to have children, and perceived to have money, there will be others who will stop at nothing to get hold of that money. It is very much a case of buyer beware.

Australians have a view that the government will fix everything and regulate everything. When it comes to IVF, this is a fair view. IVF clinics in Australia are regulated both at a State and Federal level in different ways, and on top of that there are more regulations when it comes to surrogacy. Australians also have an expectation that if they go to their local IVF clinic (or even one on the other side of the country) that the clinic will be well regulated, well run and that the people running the clinic are honest.

This assumption should not be made when going overseas. Typically clinics are not or poorly regulated (at least in developing countries). In most places surrogacy agencies are simply not regulated. There is an absence of regulation for surrogacy agencies in developing countries. Even in the US, the assumption of Australians is that agencies are regulated. Typically, they're not. If the agency is owned by a lawyer or a psychologist or a doctor, then there is some indirect regulation- but that's about it in most places.

As we have seen in the last week, Filipino women were detained at Manila before getting on a plane to Phnom Penh, because the belief of authorities was that these women were being trafficked to Cambodia for surrogacy for foreigners. I bet that these women were not told before they got to Manila airport that if they landed in Cambodia, they would be likely jailed by authorities, who viewed their activities as illegal, and to avoid going to jail they would have to remain in hiding.

The detention reminded me of the scheme by Rudy Rupak. Rupak has been indicted by a US federal grand jury of wire fraud. His scheme, exposed by Australia's ABC, was in part to traffic Colombian women to Mexico to undertake surrogacy there for foreigners. His offsider accused Rupak of organising a Ponzi scheme.

It also reminded me of the scheme by then Californian attorney Theresa Erickson, which was to produce babies in the Ukraine on demand for US intended parents- which led to her jailing and disbarment.

And if you think Cambodian authorities don't mean business, think again. Australian agent Tammy Davis-Charles remains in custody in a notorious Cambodian prison waiting her trial about people trafficking.

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