Tough terms for surrogate mothers in proposed bill
A surrogate mother will not be allowed to enter into a surrogacy agreement for more than three times in her life time if MPs pass proposed amendments to the law.
More, a surrogate mother will be required to wait for two years between each birth to be eligible for another surrogacy agreement if the National Assembly passes the proposed amendments to the Assisted Reproductive Technology Bill 2022.
The surrogacy agreement which the surrogate mother will sign will include terms prohibiting the surrogate from partaking any alcohol, smocking, using un-prescribed drugs or engaging in dangerous activity that may affect the health or life of a child conceived through assisted reproduction technology in order to protect the fetus as the intended parents do not have control over a surrogate’s actions.
These are among the far-reaching amendments the Committee on Health chaired by Endebess MP Robert Pukose has proposed on the bill which is sponsored by Suba MP Millie Odhiambo.
Odhiambo re-published the bill, after the 12th parliament failed to pass it despite the National Assembly’s Health committee chaired by the then Murang’a County Woman Rep Sabina Chege proposing various amendments to the bill.
In its report tabled in the National Assembly which is expected to guide debate in the house, the health committee also proposed amendments that will prohibit a person from donating their gametes or embryos more than ten times and will also not be allowed to carry out a treatment procedure using gametes or an embryo produced by a donor if such procedure may result in more than ten children who are genetic siblings.
Further, it also provides that no person will be allowed to obtain a sperm or ovum from a child, or use any sperm or ovum obtained from a child except for medical reasons and future human procreation by the child and with informed consent of the minor and parent or legal guardian of the child.
Reads the report: “Justification: To limit the number of donations of gametes and surrogacies for the health and well-being of surrogate mothers.”
Should the amendments sail through the house, women who agree to carry a pregnancy for another woman should be at least 25 years and not more than 40 years, and they should have given birth to at least one child.
The surrogate mother should also be a person who understands the rights and obligations accruing under a surrogacy agreement, and has undergone comprehensive mental and physical health assessments, may consent to a process of assisted reproduction for purposes of surrogate motherhood.
Safety of foetus
This, the committee says, is in order to ensure the safety of the foetus and the surrogate mother, and to provide for comprehensive health assessment which is crucial for the surrogate mother’s well-being.
The committee in the amendments also proposed that both the surrogate mother, the intended mother and the intended father will be entitled to leave.
The surrogate mother will be entitled to three months of lochia leave, the intended mother will be entitled to three months maternity leave and the intended father will be entitled to two weeks paternity leave.
Reads the report: “To provide for leave for intended parents’ after the birth of children born out of assisted reproduction.”
On collection of the human tissue, the committee noted that a cryo bank (which collects and stores human tissue for later uses) shall obtain male gametes from males between 21 years and 35 years of age; or oocytes from females between 23 years of age and 35 years of age.
It reads: “an assisted reproductive clinic under this Act shall examine the donors for such diseases, as may be prescribed. Justification is to provide an age limit for gametes donors to ensure its quality.”
With regards to the disposal of gametes, the committee is proposing a fine not exceeding Sh5 million or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years, or to both should they fail to adhere to the disposal rules provided.
According to the committee the gametes should be disposed of after ten years of preservation or be donated to other couples pursuing assistive reproductive technology.
The gametes can also be preserved for the conduct of research on stem cells and zygotes that are not more than fourteen days old on a written application if the applicant undertakes to document the research for record purposes and prior consent is obtained from the donor of such stem cells or zygotes.