If you follow the surrogacy world, or even just our blog, you know that the whole world is not surrogacy friendly. In fact, very little of the world is surrogacy friendly. The United States is one of the few places where compensated surrogacy is legal, and even here, it isn’t legal in all states (though Colorado is a great state for surrogacy!).
Recently there have been some major sentences meted out for participants in surrogacy, and some may be more warranted than others.
In early August, Tammy Davis-Charles, an Australian who had been running a surrogacy agency in Cambodia, was sentenced to 18 months in prison by a Cambodian court. Her two Cambodian associates who helped her with agency duties, Samrith Chakrya and Penh Rithy, were also each given 18 month prison terms. Cambodia banned “surrogacy arrangements” in November 2016, and Davis-Charles was arrested shortly after. Davis-Charles claimed several lawyers had confirmed to her that it was legal to purse surrogacy in Cambodia prior to her arrest.
Just like any other business, surrogacy is not immune to frauds and scammers.
A US District Court in California recently sentenced Archaryya “Rudy” Rupak (he may sound familiar) to serve two years in prison for financial fraud in connection to his international surrogacy agency, Planet Hospital. He brought clients (intended parents) in to his agency on false claims of actual cost, he falsely represented what the funds he solicited from intended parents would be used for, and he created fraudulent websites and wrote emails pretending to be a doctor.
He scammed one of the more vulnerable demographics of people – those desperately wanting to have their own family.
Surrogacy as a Crime in the News
One of the most discouraging things about taking an Internet tour of surrogacy is the way news outlets, and even government officials, talk about it. In January 2016, then Minister of the Interior of Italy, Angelino Alfano, said that those participating in surrogacy should be treated as sex offenders and sent to prison. Even Aljazeera wrote in their article about Tammy Davis-Charles that surrogacy is a “womb-for-rent” business. What an insensitive way to refer to surrogates and those seeking their help.
The truth is, you don’t have to go far in your Internet search on surrogacy to find untrue and cruel things written about it. And while there are nefarious individuals out there trying to take advantage (as in any sector), there are many, many more people trying to help people who want nothing more than to have a baby of their own do just that.