A bill seeking to curb ‘professional’ sperm donors and the thriving surrogate mothers business, has been re-introduced in Parliament.
The Assisted Reproductive Technology Bill that is aimed at addressing issues surrounding donation of sperms and ova to childless couples, if approved, will make surrogacy for women below 25 illegal.
The bill sponsored by Suba North Millie Odhiambo says a man who donates sperm, will not claim child ownership.
While briefing the National Assembly Health Committee about the Bill on Tuesday, Ms Odhiambo said the intention of the proposed law is to deal with cheats who emerge after death to claim that they were children of so and so.
The bill proposes the formation of Assisted Reproductive Technology Authority that will oversee donation of sperms and ova storage.
It specifies who qualifies for the service and instil discipline among the practitioners who carry out artificial insemination.
The authority will develop standards, regulations and guidelines on assisted reproductive technology, establish and maintain a confidential national database on persons receiving the services or providing sperms and embryos for use, among other functions.
This is the second attempt by the third-time legislator to push for the bill that intends to regulate issues surrounding In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF).
IVF is a process where an egg is fertilised by a sperm outside the body – in a test-tube – after which the embryo is transferred to a woman’s womb.
A similar bill was previously tabled before the National Assembly and passed in the last House but was watered down at the Senate.
“A person shall undertake assisted reproductive technology only for procreation purposes,” says the bill.
The bill also prohibits obtaining sperm or ovum from minors who are under 18.
“The parties to a marriage shall not give any monetary or other benefits to the surrogate mother other than for expenses reasonably incurred in the process of surrogacy,” the bill proposes.
“A child born out of assisted reproductive technology under this Act shall have the same legal rights under the Constitution or any other written law as that of a child born through sexual intercourse,” it adds.
There is currently no law in Kenya that regulates surrogacy arrangements and IVF has been happening largely without clear-cut guidelines and rules.
Doctors estimate that about 20 per cent of couples will require general assistance in conception with 10 per cent requiring serious assistance.
IVF, with a success rate of between 40 and 45 per cent, is gaining momentum in Kenya.
“Infertile couples can thus revive their hopes of parenthood through this process,” Ms Odhiambo told the Sabina Chege-led Committee.
In her bestselling book, Becoming, former US First Lady Michelle Obama reveals that she had a miscarriage and used IVF to conceive both children, Malia and Sasha.
She said when she was around 34 years old, she realised that "the biological clock is real" and that "egg production is limited", which made her decide to seek IVF services.