Designing my itinerary for my upcoming project to investigate cross-border surrogacy has been a real challenge. Many of the places where surrogacy is available overseas (and particularly at a lower financial cost) can be complex travel and business destinations. I had initially included Kathmandu in my itinerary, as surrogacy has become a rapidly expanding business in Nepal over the past couple of years. However, after the catastrophic Nepal earthquake earlier this year, the Churchill Trust determined that the physical safety risk was too high and would not support my travel there.
Late yesterday, I learned that the entire situation for surrogacy in Nepal has shifted again. Just as was the case in Thailand and India, these changes occurred suddenly, and though it was not without some warning, it has taken many people by surprise and will cause further massive shakeups to the commercial surrogacy industry (particularly in the Asian region). I wonder what kind of effect this will have for families who are already in Nepal undertaking their surrogacies, or were about to embark on the process?
The Republica newsletter on August 25th 2015 reported:
The Supreme Court (SC) of Nepal has issued an interim order to immediately halt the surrogacy services in the country. The single bench of Chief Justice Kalyan Shrestha on Tuesday gave the stay order on surrogacy. Advocate Pushpa Raj Pandey and Prabin Pantha and a few others had filed a petition demanding and an end to surrogacy services claiming that they were being operated in the country without any legal grounds.
In the interim order, the SC has also asked the hospitals operating surrogacy services and the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) to furnish clarification citing legal grounds on which they were ruining such businesses.The SC has ordered them to immediately halt the services stating that surrogacy services should be run only after formulation of laws, not merely on the basis of a letter provided by department of the MoHP.
Many private hospitals have been providing surrogacy services on the basis of permission letter issued by Personnel Administration Division (PAD), which is not the authorized department of the MoHP to issue such letters.The MoHP needs to formulate laws on surrogacy before allowing surrogacy businesses to operate.
In the writ filed on Sunday, the petitioners have said that hospitals should not be allowed to carry out human trafficking in the name of surrogacy services at a time when there are no laws governing them. It has named the prime minister, cabinet secretariat, MoHP and Health Department as the defendants in the case.
Other defendants are Grande City Clinic and Diagnostic Center, Grande International Hospital, Om Hospital and Venus Hospital, all of whom have been providing surrogacy services.
The writ states that women are economically exploited in the process as hospitals charge hefty amount from the clients and pay only up to Rs 4,00,000 to surrogate mothers.
The government’s decision to allow surrogacy services that takes undue advantage of women’s poverty, ignorance, lack of jobs, low social status and open border with the lure of money to sell their wombs is height of irresponsibility, as per the writ.