'Not possible': Legal expert explains rules around 'multiple' surrogates in South Africa

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"The surrogate mother must do this to assist the intended parents and not for financial gains."  Photo by freestocks on Unsplash
"The surrogate mother must do this to assist the intended parents and not for financial gains." Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

A Russian couple recently raised the eyebrows of many parents after revealing that they used surrogate mothers to birth their 20 infants, who are all under the age 18 months.

The couple has no record of infertility, as mom Kristina Ozturk had a little girl six years ago, before marrying her millionaire husband, Galip, who is 57.

All the babies are biologically hers and her husband's, which indicates that there is nothing wrong with the husband's fertility either.

The primary motivation for this couple to have 20 children, they told the media, was that they did not want to wait, and they had the financial means to do this.

Read: 'We had to carry on alone': Two dads advocating for same-sex parenting share their surrogacy journey

Could you do that in South Africa?

Parent24 asked Adele Van der Walt, a well-known authority on legal aspects of surrogacy in South Africa, about the possibility of having multiple babies via surrogacy in South Africa. 

She explains that "in terms of South African legislation regulating surrogacy, the Children's Act 38 of 2005, Chapter 19, states that there are very clear requisites to comply with when applicants lodge a High Court surrogacy application to obtain a court order, granting permission or leave to proceed with surrogacy."

"At least one of the Commissioning parent's genetic materials must be used," adds Van der Walt.

In South Africa, one of the requisites is that "there must be a medical reason, which is permanent and irreversible, why the intended mother cannot carry the child herself," she says.

Van der Walt explains that a clinical assessment needs to be conducted on the surrogate mother concerning her emotional wellbeing, the risks of pregnancy termination, and expectations.

Above all, "the surrogate mother has to act altruistically, because the surrogate mother must do this to assist the intended parents and not for financial gains," says Van der Walt.

It is required that the surrogate mother has at least one living child of her own, says added Van der Walt.

Also read: Would you wait till your 50s to have a child, just to avoid debt?

The best interests of the child

However, it does not end there. Van der Walt says that a clinical psychologist will have to provide detailed information about the intended parents and the surrogate mother and their husband's family dynamics, support structure, and motivation that all of this is still in the child's best interest.

So that any emotional, physical and financial support the child required is provided, says Van der Walt.

"In terms of South Africa reported case law on surrogacy, it is necessary to include comprehensive detail of any previous surrogacy applications," says Van der Walt.

In the case above of the couple who hired 20 surrogate mothers to have 20 infant babies almost all at once, Van der Walt says that the clinical psychologist will not be able to convince a court that it is in the best interest of a child to have 19 other siblings, and to have them all of similar age complicates this even more.

Secondly, she says that "the Court will require full details on financial motivation for surrogate mothers, which is illegal in SA."

In conclusion, she says that it would not then be possible to have 20 children through surrogacy in South Africa.


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