MPs support surrogacy Bill, say it is long overdue move

surrogate mother

The surrogate mother gives up all parental rights, but this has been subject to moral and legal challenges.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Picture this: you get into a mutual understanding with a surrogate mother to carry a baby for you after donating an egg. After giving birth, she hands over the child to you but things don’t go as planned – she backtracks on the agreement. The court battle starts. You are dragged to court and accused of child trafficking.

Well, this is set to be a thing of the past thanks to the Assisted Reproductive Technology Bill, 2019 sponsored by MP Millie Odhiambo.

The Bill, currently in its second reading, proposes the formation of the Assisted Reproductive Technology Authority that will develop standards, regulations and guidelines on assisted reproduction, establish and maintain a confidential national database of persons receiving or providing services or sperms and embryos, among other functions.

It specifies who qualifies for the service and ways to enforce discipline among practitioners.

Parental rights 

It also seeks to regulate rights and obligations of those involved in the process.

Surrogate motherhood is a practice where a woman is contracted to conceive, gestate and after delivery, hand over the child. The surrogate mother gives up all parental rights, but this has been subject to moral and legal challenges.  

In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate mother is impregnated through artificial insemination with the sperm of the husband. In gestational surrogacy, the wife’s ova and the husband’s sperm are subjected to in-vitro fertilisation, and the resulting embryo is implanted in the surrogate mother.

Currently, there is no law on surrogacy in Kenya, but the practice is nevertheless carried out.

In the absence of written laws, even with mutual understanding or written agreements, numerous court cases have been filed as surrogate mothers change tunes after delivery and

While moving the Bill on the floor of the House, Ms Odhiambo pointed out that assisted reproduction is not illegal but there is no legal framework.

“I know there may be many moral and ethical issues that will be raised, but we cannot bury our heads in the sand. I have read the Bible and I have found nothing that stops assisted reproductive technology,” she said.

The lawmaker said many women have been abused and mocked in society. “I have been abused by male competitors that I don’t have a child,” she said.

Ndhiwa MP Martin Owino said infertility among couples has caused economic and social distress in many families.

Good bill

“This is a good Bill. It will bring dignity to both men and women in families,” Mr Owino said.

Kitui South MP Rachael Nyamai said the law will held end the current haphazard use of the technology.

Seme MP James Nyikal supported the Bill saying: “At the moment, if something goes wrong during this process, there is no penalty for the medical practitioner. But the authority that this Bill proposes to be in place will set the circumstances under which it can be done, where and the penalties.”

Kilifi North MP Owen Baya said the country needs the law as soon as possible. “There are a lot of young girls out here being exploited by doctors because their eggs are harvested and they are just given a mere 10,000 while the doctor ends up earning millions of shillings,” Mr Baya said.