The recent outbreak of news about surrogacy in Thailand has people starting to call Thailand “the womb of the world.” Surrogacy in the Western World can cost from $100,000 – $150,000 for couples who want their own child but are unable to conceive. This has driven couples to developing countries with a modern healthcare system to seek surrogacy alternatives.
Until recently Thailand was a cheaper legal alternative for couples who could not conceive. There was no legislation that outlawed Surrogacy in Thailand. Surrogates in Thailand were paid $10,000 plus a monthly stipend, paid medical care, and housing to be surrogates. For women in some from the poor areas of Thailand, the amount was equal to three times or more of their annual wages. For childless couples, this was a way for them to have a child for a fifth of the costs of their home country.
However the unregulated surrogacy industry’s abuses came to light in the form of Baby Gammy, a child born with down syndrome. The genetic parents demanded that the surrogate abort the pregnancy and demanded a refund. Further investigations into surrogacy turned up a Japanese man who used surrogacy to father 16 children and another man from Hong Kong who fathered 12 children through surrogacy. Surrogacy turned babies into a commodity where the child’s sex selection and customized genetics is part of the process.
The following uproar cause the Thai junta to shut down commercial surrogacy in Thailand. A draft legislation to regulate the surrogacy industry has been proposed. It contains the following relevant provisions:
- A doctor or surrogacy clinic is prohibited from performing surrogacy for commercial purposes.
- No one can establish or operate a surrogacy agency for commercial purposes.
- No one can advertise about surrogacy for commercial or non-commercial reasons.
- Women are forbidden to carry babies for commercial purposes.
- Surrogacy is now only allowed for non-commercial reasons between blood relatives. The relative must be related to the genetic husband or wife but cannot be their parents or children.
- The surrogate must have previously had a child prior to being a surrogate. If the surrogate is married, the husband must consent to the surrogacy.
- For surrogacy cases, the genetic married parents will be the legitimate parents of the child.
- Only trained medical professionals are allowed to assist in the reproductive technology services.
- Violations of the above provisions can carry penalties of up to 10 years imprisonment and a 200,000 baht fine.
Surrogacy is an evolving legal issue in Thailand. Fresh from the proposed legislation, surrogates have hidden and the clinics which cared for the mothers have shut down. The genetic parents of the children are lost and don’t know what to do. If you have questions or concerns about surrogacy in Thailand, please consult an impartial experienced professional who can explain the legal issues of assisted reproductive technologies in Thailand.