The Ministry of Health has allowed three major hospitals in Hanoi, Hue and Ho Chi Minh City to carry out surrogacy services on a trial basis, starting this week.
Experts said the reason for the ministry to be reserved about launching the service until now is that the demand is still low and that the agency wants to keep a close watch on it.
Non-commercial surrogacy was legalized in Vietnam last June, after being banned for years.
Under the new law, surrogacy is allowed among legally married, childless couples only after doctors confirm the mother is unable to give birth even with technical support.
The health ministry reportedly will consider expanding the service to other hospitals when demand increases.
In the meantime, Dr. Le Quang Thanh, director of HCMC-based Tu Du Obstetrics Hospital, said that the legalization of surrogacy at his hospital makes almost no difference because in terms of techniques, the practice is basically in-vitro fertilization, or IVF.
Tu Du as well as Hue Central Hospital and the National Hospital of Obstetrics and Gynecology in Hanoi are already experienced when it comes to treating infertility with IVF methods, he said.
The only difference lies in paperwork, according to the doctor.
Nguyen Huy Quang, chief of the health ministry’s legal department, said surrogacy is a good solution for incurably infertile couples.
It also shows humanity, as the rate of infertility in Vietnam is quite high – about 7.7 percent of married couples in reproductive ages, according to Quang.
Still banning surrogacy for commercial purposes, the new law stipulates that the arrangement must be voluntary for all parties involved and follow IVF regulations.
It states that the surrogate must be a sister or cousin within three generations of either the husband or wife, and have given birth successfully.
A woman is allowed to be a surrogate only once in her life and must secure her husband’s approval if she’s married.
The amended law also removes the limit on the age of women taking part in IVF process.
Previously, women older than 45 years old were not allowed to receive sperms, eggs and embryos for laboratory reproduction.
Medical costs and any childcare must be paid by the parents.