The Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, on Wednesday said Lagos deserved a law on surrogacy, human fertilisation and other related areas.
Dr. Obasa said this during a stakeholders’ meeting on a bill for a law to regulate human fertilisation and surrogacy procedure and practice.
While seeking to provide a legal framework for regulating surrogacy in the State, the bill further seeks to prohibit certain practices in connection with embryos and gametes.
Represented by Hon. Desmond Elliot, a lawmaker at the House, Speaker Obasa noted that the proposed law would give a ‘human face’ to the practice by experts in the field and add to the advancement of Lagos.
“Lagos State has consistently grown since 1999 when we birthed the current democracy. Today, we remain proud to say that we are in a State that has become a good example to others in terms of governance, advancement in thoughts and actions and good leadership.
“The bill being discussed today is another example of good thinking and effective leadership,” the Speaker said.
He promised that the opinions and contributions of the stakeholders including those from the Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) sector would be considered by the House in passing the bill.
Noting that the bill would address the controversies and litigations associated with surrogacy and related matters in the society, the chairman of the Committee on Health Services, Hon. Sokunle Hakeem, urged the stakeholders to submit memoranda that would help the passage of the bill into law.
Giving a general overview of the bill, Hon. Victor Akande, chairman of the House Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights, Public Petitions and LASIEC, said the proposed law was to help ensure that surrogacy is practised responsibly and in accordance with the law.
In his contribution, Emeritus Prof. Osato Ona Frank Giwa-Osagie, founder of OMNI Medical Clinic and expert in In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF), urged the House to ensure that a comprehensive legislation about Assisted Reproductive Technology to make for effective enforcement.
He applauded Lagos for being a leading state in the health sector in Nigeria.
He also implored the House to incorporate the regulations of Health Facilities Monitoring and Accreditation Agency (HEFAMAA) into the bill.
Congratulating the House Committee on Health Services for the effort, he appealed to the House to incorporate professionals, especially where technicalities arise in the consideration of the bill.
On his part, Prof. Oladapo Ashiru, Secretary-General of the International Federation of Fertility Societies (IFFS) and President of the Academy of Medicine Specialities of Nigeria, also urged the House to bridge the laws from HEFAMAA to create an enabling surrogacy law.
The founder of Met Surrogate Mothers Agency, Mrs. Olaronke Thaddeus, suggested that the bill should include surrogacy agencies as the latter are the registered practitioners that connect intending parents to surrogate candidates.
Highlighting that the rights of women and children must be protected as they are the key candidates in surrogacy, Dr. Ivie Omoruyi of the Blossom & Oasis RHS, opined that children and women must be factored in the bill.
Contributing also, Mrs. Ogunmade Ty-Lolu, CEO, Precious Conceptions and beneficiary of surrogacy, who shared the depressing and traumatic experience she had for 13 years before going for surrogacy in India, suggestee that the five-year limit before couples can engage in surrogacy be expunged from the bill.
She also spoke on the importance of considering the society as surrogacy is not just for experts and practitioners, but for the society.
While commending the participants, Hon. Adebisi Yusuff, a member of the House, stated that the laws of the Lagos Assembly gives the State the legislative backing it needs to be better.
Speaking at the meeting, the Clerk of the House, Barr. Olalekan Onafeko, noted: “We have one of the best parliamentary system in Africa and our laws have been requested and replicated even by some countries. We should be proud of this advancement and be certain that the inputs and memorandum you (the stakeholders) have submitted today will be considered in the bill.”
Commending the House, Prof. Ashiru assured that the society of Assisted Reproductive Technology, are anxious for the passage of the bill with their contributions included.
He promised to support its engagement and enforcement.