Assisted Reproduction: Emerging Reproductive Rights Issues in Asia: How Pro Bono can Support in Building the Capacity of Lawyers on Understanding Human Rights Aspects of Assisted Reproduction

13.30 – 15.00 | 17 September

Room: Pearl

Asia has emerged as an international hub for surrogacy, in part due to low-cost surrogacy services, lack of regulations or, and women in the region who have limited opportunities to improve their families’ economic circumstances thus viewing surrogacy as a comparatively attractive employment option. Countries in the region such as Cambodia, India, Laos , Nepal, Thailand, and Vietnam have been seen as surrogacy destination from many European countries, US, Australia, and other countries from the region itself such as China and Japan. Surrogacy and ART are largely unregulated in the region and in places where they are regulated, the human rights-based approach is often missing. Even though persons acting as surrogates are, in practice, the center of surrogacy, they are often not consulted by law and policy makers when developing legal frameworks. Worse, in some cases they are even subjected to arrests and prosecutions. Human rights narratives around assisted reproduction, particularly surrogacy is nascent and gradually evolving. There is still limited human rights jurisprudence around surrogacy from the reproductive rights and reproductive autonomy perspectives. As an emerging area, there is also a need for building the capacity of lawyers, advocates, activists, and policy makers on utilizing the human rights framework when regulating this matter. (Pro-Bono) lawyers’ capacity can also be strengthened in providing legal counsel and representation for the surrogates. In the past years, the Center for Reproductive Rights has partnered and worked with national organizations in the region to engage in the discussions around the development of rights-based AR legislation and conducting advocacy with UN bodies and experts to end the criminalization and prosecution of persons acting as surrogates.

Through interactive sessions, the proposed workshop will:

• Outline the social and legal contexts of assisted reproduction and surrogacy in Asia

• Share how countries in the region such as Cambodia, India, Laos (TBD), and Nepal are facing challenges and dealing with complex legal issues around assisted reproduction and surrogacy

• Identify opportunities for, and encourage support from the pro bono community in securing rights protections for people acting as surrogates and ensuring equitable access to assisted reproduction