Paid-for surrogacy illegal: court
A surrogacy consultant who charged would-be parents for her services has found herself on the wrong side of the law.
The woman helped facilitate surrogacy for would-be parents in Gauteng. The parties cannot be named.
But the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria ruled that she had no legal right to accept payments because commercial surrogacy was illegal in South Africa.
When two sets of would-be parents asked the court to have agreements with their chosen surrogate mothers confirmed, it emerged they had paid R5,000 to the woman to oversee the process. Judge Ronel Tolmay found this unlawful.
"At the heart of the problem in these two applications is the fact that commercial surrogacy is, as in most other countries, unlawful in South Africa and payments are limited to those specifically provided for in the Children's Act," he said.
The act allows only for medical- or legal-related expenses.
"The concern is that [her] only qualification seems to be her personal experience as a surrogate mother. Invaluable as her assistance may be, I am not convinced that her personal experience qualifies her to render these services.
"Surrogacy is strictly regulated...to protect the public against unscrupulous people who may abuse vulnerable people," she said.
The woman, who has acted as a surrogate four times, said she did nothing wrong.
"If you advertise yourself for a surrogate and you don't have the right knowledge and the right people to work with, this process can leave you bankrupt. If your lawyer or doctor doesn't find you a surrogate and it's not a relative, you have to do it for yourself," she said.
Adele van der Walt, acting for the parents, said her clients were thrilled that their agreement with their surrogate mothers was confirmed.