Forum: Institute safeguards against export of frozen eggs for overseas surrogacy

I refer to the call by the Women's Wing and youth wing of the People's Action Party to permit social egg-freezing in Singapore (Call to review sex ed, allow egg-freezing for non-medical reasons, July 30).

If social egg-freezing for single women is permitted in Singapore one day, it is likely that current local health regulations that ban surrogacy and in-vitro fertilisation treatment for single women will remain in force.

Nevertheless, there is a need to ensure there is no loophole in Singapore's health regulations that would allow local patients to export their frozen eggs or embryos abroad to foreign fertility clinics.

Such a loophole would provide a "back door" for single motherhood and overseas surrogacy.

Hence, stringent safeguards should be implemented.

First, the Ministry of Health (MOH) should insist on patients producing a valid marriage certificate before being allowed to export frozen eggs overseas.

Second, MOH should also require the woman's husband to approve of and sign off on the export of frozen eggs, because of the legal implications for him.

Under Singapore law, the woman's husband is by default presumed to be the legitimate father of any child born to the woman.

Hence, she should not be allowed to export her frozen eggs overseas without his consent.

Third, MOH should also ensure that both the woman and her husband sign a declaration that they will not use a third-party surrogate with the exported frozen eggs, on the penalty that they will be completely barred from applying for adoption, residency and citizenship procedures for any child born from surrogacy with the frozen eggs.

On sympathetic grounds, MOH could consider waiving the third condition if a woman is able to produce a medical report validating that she is medically unfit to carry a pregnancy to term.

Alexis Heng Boon Chin (Dr)

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.