The UAE has recently amended its laws to allow individuals the option of choosing surrogacy for childbirth, a practice previously unavailable in the country.
Legal experts view this amendment to federal law as a groundbreaking change, reflecting a noteworthy shift in the nation’s approach to reproductive techniques.
Surrogacy involves an arrangement where a woman agrees to carry and give birth to a baby on behalf of a couple or an individual.
Noteworthy revisions in UAE law, as highlighted by Manasi Dicholkar, Legal Associate at Khalifa Bin Huwaidan Alketbi Advocates & Legal Consultants, have expanded medically assisted reproduction techniques (IVF) to non-Muslim parties without a marriage certificate. This includes the allowance of surrogacy and grants unmarried couples access to fertilizations and implantation procedures.
What are the stipulations of the UAE Surrogacy Law?
Unmarried and non-Muslim couples can utilise the law after applying to relevant regulators. “[They] may now access any of the lawful assisted conception and reproduction services within the country, including surrogacy.”
“These services will be under the jurisdiction of the relevant regulator in each emirate of the UAE, with the condition that the respective eggs and sperm are sourced from the involved couple,” stated James Clarke, Of Counsel at BSA Ahmad Bin Hezeem & Associates LLP.
“Egg and sperm banks remain prohibited. Notably, there is no new legislation explicitly authorizing surrogacy; instead, the language in the previous law prohibiting surrogacy has been omitted. The previous law forbade the practice of ‘external insemination between a sperm taken from the husband and an egg taken from the wife, then implanting the fertilised egg in the womb of another wife of the husband.’ The updated law delegates the regulation of surrogacy to each emirate.”
“This means that in order to use a surrogate, a couple will need to use their own eggs and sperm and gain the broad consent of the relevant UAE regulator under Article 8 in order to proceed to use a surrogate,” explained Clarke. “The implications of this are that a woman who is not able or who does not wish to carry a child may still be able to have a baby that is biologically hers and her partner’s, subject to regulatory consent.”
To whom does the law apply?
The law is applicable to both Emiratis and expatriates, whether Muslim or non-Muslim. However, non-Muslims are the only ones allowed to utilize the designated services while unmarried, subject to application to the relevant regulator as outlined in Article 8(2) of the new law. In cases involving one or both Muslim partners, marriage is a mandatory requirement to access these services.
Who can be a surrogate?
The current law does not provide details on the selection process for surrogates, and specific criteria have not been disclosed,” clarified Clarke.
“The oversight of access to these services will be individually regulated by the pertinent regulator. It remains to be observed how each emirate will approach this matter, and whether there will be any variation in approach.”
The law stipulates that the surrogate mother must be a UAE citizen or resident between the ages of 25 and 35. She must have a healthy medical history, with no criminal record, and be deemed physically and mentally capable of carrying the pregnancy to term.
Unmarried non-Muslim couples interested in surrogacy must complete a crucial legal procedure, securing approval for their application from the relevant regulator in accordance with federal mandates. Additionally, they may need to fulfill additional requirements at the emirate level.
The updated laws offer couples considerably broader and more adaptable choices in contrast to the previous regulations. Nevertheless, the practical implications of these changes are yet to be fully understood, pending the establishment of each emirate’s regulatory approach. Once the regulatory landscape becomes clearer, couples can assess their options and initiate decision-making.
The core objective of the UAE’s laws is to enhance the quality of life, foster happiness, and safeguard fundamental rights. These adjustments expand the array of choices for family planning, showcasing the nation’s dedication to embodying a modern, open-minded, and tolerant society.
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