UAE legalizes surrogacy, IVF for unmarried couples: law explained

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Picture for illustrative purposes only. ARCHIVE

Unmarried non-Muslim couples can now undergo surrogacy and in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment in the UAE after the country announced landmark changes to its fertility laws.

In a new decree published in the Official Gazette, unmarried couples can apply for IVF treatment provided that the baby is registered under both their names. The child will adopt the nationality of either parent’s home country.

For Muslim couples, permission must first be given by the Ministry of Health before they can undergo IVF treatment, and couples need to show proof of marriage.

UAE lifts ban on surrogacy

The new decree also lifted the ban on artificial insemination and surrogacy, removing a previous clause the criminalized the involvement of a third-party woman in carrying a couple’s child.

However, it remains illegal if the sperm donor is not the husband, or if the egg donor is not the wife. In order to use a surrogate, couples must use their own eggs and sperm and get consent from the relevant UAE regulator.

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.

The UAE also relaxed it law on artificial insemination: “It is permissible to fertilise a number of eggs sufficient for the transplantation more than once, in accordance with the conditions and controls specified by the executive regulations of this law.”

“Fertilised eggs that have not been implanted must be destroyed in the following cases: The death of one of the spouses, the end of the marital relationship, submitting a destruction request from both spouses or expiration of the storage period without requesting an extension,” the law says.

Under the revised law, the preservation of embryos and eggs are now allowed. “Fertilised eggs may be preserved so that the number required for transplantation can be extracted when needed, for a period of five years, which can be extended for similar periods based on a written request submitted by the spouses,” the law states.

Previously, only married couples were permitted to preserve their eggs. The changes to the law allow unmarried and single women the right to freeze their eggs. The revised law also extends the renewal of egg freezing beyond the initial five-year term.

Under UAE law, surrogacy and fertility treatments are required to be carried out at licensed clinics. ICA/Expat Media

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