The enforceability of international surrogacy in South Africa : how would a South African court proceed in determining an international surrogacy case?
MetadataShow full item record
In this research, I sought to investigate the extent to which South Africa recognises international surrogacy agreements. I examined Chapter 19 of the Children's Act as the first legislation to afford surrogate motherhood agreements legal recognition in South Africa. Section 292(1)(b)-(e) of the Children's Act sets out the requirements for the validity of a surrogate agreement. The validity of the agreement is governed by South African law if it was concluded in South Africa, and at least one of the commissioning parents and the surrogate mother and her husband or partner must be domiciled in South Africa at the time of entering into the agreement. I explored South African legislation that may be applicable to the children born of commissioning parents (whether the commissioning parents are South Africans or foreign nationals) who entered into international surrogacy agreements. I concluded that the main issue that relates to international surrogacy are the implications that rise from registering a surrogate born child’s birth in South Africa and in other countries. I further concluded that the current position of South African law will result in a surrogate born child being left stateless and parentless. I considered the criminal aspect of international surrogacy agreements as a consequence of a null and void international surrogacy agreement. Furthermore, I referred to the legal difficulties of international surrogacy and potential rights infringed on or denied to the child born of an international surrogacy by examining international case law. I concluded that South African courts do not have precedents, guidelines or legislation governing international surrogacy agreements and thus it is important to examine international case law. I further concluded that, it is important for South African authorities and courts to consider the possibility of international surrogacy occurring in South Africa. I hope that the South African courts take a child-centered approach, building on the views established in the international case law, and that courts do not adopt a strict interpretation of our current laws. Lastly, I suggested recommendations for the appropriate manner in which to legislate international surrogacy agreements in South Africa. I submitted that judicial and administrative authorities could inspect the international surrogacy agreement and ensure that the terms do not harm the child and that the child is recognised as the legal child of the commissioning parents. The courts should first look at the suitability of the commissioning parents and finally consider the best interest of the child as being of paramount importance, before ordering the international surrogacy agreement null and void. I further suggested that a statutory regulation that contemplates international surrogacy should be formulated, as a source of reference, which will assist a court when faced with determining the issue of the parentage of a surrogate born child, and consequently, his or her nationality. I concluded that the South African Parliament should either re-draft or provide clearer guidelines regarding surrogacy and the possibility of international surrogacy agreements.