An increasing number of Czech couples who cannot have a child of their own are seeking the help of surrogate mothers. However, there is currently no legislation in the Czech Republic recognising surrogacy. Experts are warning that the arrangements surrounding this controversial method of assisted reproduction are void and unenforceable.
Surrogacy is a method of assisted reproduction in which a woman carries and delivers a pregnancy for another couple or person. They conclude an agreement where the surrogate mother binds herself to terminate all her parental rights to the child immediately after its birth and to delegate them together with the child to the commissioning couple.
Lukáš Prudil, who provides legal services for couples seeking a child through surrogacy, says no legal contract can force the surrogate mother to fulfil the arrangement.
“If a commissioning couple comes to our office with a potential surrogate mother, we inform them in detail about all the legal issues concerning the process.
“We stress that they have no legal claim to the child and that the process is built entirely on the mutual trust of those involved. The agreement that we make cannot be legally enforced in any way.”
According to experts, several dozen children are born to surrogate mothers in the Czech Republic each year. The women, who agree to carry another couple’s child, are entitled to financial reimbursement for lost wages, travel expenses and medical costs.
Experts say an increasing number of women agree to surrogacy in order to make money. According to Czech Radio, some women demand up to two million crowns for their services. However, commercial surrogacy is regarded as a criminal offense.
Radka Jarošová, a doctor working for one of Prague’s centres for assisted reproduction, says she has seen around a dozen children born to surrogate mothers in the last couple of years.
“The surrogate mother must of course be healthy and has to show no signs of any psycho-pathological illness. We also provide psychological counselling, explaining to the women that the process is very demanding both for the surrogate and the biological mother.”
According to Czech legislation, the mother of the child is the woman who gave birth to it, while the father is the donor of the sperm. The biological mother, that is, the woman who donated her egg to the surrogate mother, can only adopt the child when the surrogate mother officially gives it up.
Another complication may arise when the surrogate mother is married. In that case, it is her husband who is considered the child’s father and they both have to officially give up the child within six weeks after the birth.
While surrogacy in the Czech Republic is still largely unregulated, in many EU countries, such as Spain, France and Germany, both the commercial and altruistic forms of surrogacy have been outlawed.