At least 70 surrogate babies born in Nepal have been taken to other countries since February 2014. The number excludes babies airlifted to Israel right after the April 25 earthquake.
Records at the Department of Immigration (DoI) show that the Department has to date issued ‘entry visas’ to more than 70 babies born to Indian surrogate mothers (excluding 14 or 15 babies taken to Israel following the earthquake.)
Among the babies, 40 were taken to Israel, 14 to the United States, 11 to Australia and five to Spain. DoI issued the first ‘entry visas’ to the surrogate baby of an Israeli couple in February 2014.
DoI informed that they issued visas to such babies after receiving their travel documents from the respective embassies.
“We have to issue visas to babies born in Nepal once we get their travel documents. We are not the authorized department for checking whether the babies were born through surrogacy or not,” informed Director General at DoI, Kedar Neujpane.
He added that surrogacy parents have been bringing birth certificates from hospitals without mentioning whether surogacy was invovled or not.
In addition, the embassies of Israel, USA, Australia and Spain in Nepal are in breach of an international protocol in not verifying the birth certificates of surrogate babies through the Consular Department. Under the Hague Convention of 1961, these embassies need to certify the birth certificates of babies born in Nepal.
Officials at DoI say that the number of visas issued to surrogate babies could be even higher as they started keeping records only after realizing that surrogacy births were taking place here.
Private hospitals such Grade City Clinic (GCC), Grande International Hospital, Om Hospital and Research Center and Venus Hospital have been providing surrogacy services to foreign nationals even though the relevent laws have yet to be formulated in the country. Records at DoI show that most surrogacy services are being provided by Grande City Clinic (GCC) and Grande International Hospital.
The Public Administration Division had permitted service centers and hospitals to run surrogacy activities on the basis of a cabinet decision, although it is not the authorized division for this. The cabinet decision was taken last year but no law has yet been formed for regulating surrogacy.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued an interim order to halt surrogacy services after a writ petition was filed.
DoI, meanwhile, informed that it will not stop issuing visas to surrogate babies unless so directed by the Home Ministry.
“We have not been notified to stop issuing visas to babies born through surrogacy,” said Neupane.