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Thailand pressing for legislative reform on surrogacy
Publication Date : 08-08-2014
The Thai authorities are pressing for legislative reform after nine babies said to be fathered by the same man were found in a Bangkok condominium.
The discovery on Tuesday puts the kingdom's lax surrogacy laws under scrutiny. It came days after an international outcry over a surrogate baby with Down syndrome, who was allegedly left in Thailand by his Australian parents.
The authorities, raiding the northern Bangkok condominium after a tip-off, found nine babies under the care of nannies. A pregnant woman there said she was acting as a surrogate mother.
A lawyer acting on behalf of a Japanese businessman said his client was the father of all the babies. According to local media, the businessman left Thailand yesterday morning.
As Thailand has no specific laws dealing with surrogacy, the Japanese is currently not in breach of any law, deputy national police spokesman Kissana Phathanacharoen told The Straits Times.
"However, if after investigation, it is found that the babies will be used for trafficking purposes, then that would be illegal."
The doctor involved in these surrogacy cases has been identified, he added, and may have his licence revoked if he is found to have breached the Medical Council of Thailand's code of conduct.
These rules prohibit doctors from carrying out commercial surrogacy and surrogacy where the biological parents are not blood relatives of the surrogate mother.
Medical tourism is a key industry in Thailand and many fertility clinics cater specially to international clients.
In a press conference yesterday, the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security said draft legislation regulating surrogacy is now awaiting urgent consideration by the newly formed Parliament.
The National Legislative Assembly was inaugurated yesterday, more than two months after the military staged a coup that ended political unrest which put all pending legislation in limbo.
The draft legislation outlaws commercial surrogacy.
Former minister Paveena Hongsakul was quoted by The Nation as saying that she suspected the nine-baby case was linked to stem cell extraction. Stem cells are extracted from embryos, amniotic fluid, umbilical cord blood and adult tissue.
The growing crackdown on surrogacy has turned many Bangkok fertility clinics cautious.
A Straits Times check found many unwilling to talk about surrogacy services even though they advertise them. One nurse simply said: "We have to stop all the cases that give problems."
Australian officials in Bangkok have urged the Thai authorities to allow Australian parents of surrogate babies born in Thailand to leave the country, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
Thai officials estimate there are currently 250 surrogacy cases involving foreign biological parents, out of which 150 involve Australians.
Over in West Australia, the authorities said they have managed to contact the man accused of abandoning his surrogate son, who was born with Down syndrome, in Thailand.
He and his wife returned to Australia with only the boy's healthy twin sister.
According to broadcaster ABC, the man, 56, was convicted of 22 child sex charges in the 1990s.
- See more at: http://www.stasiareport.com/the-big-story/asia-report/thailand/story/9-surrogate-babies-same-dad-found-thai-condo-20140808#sthash.tvcdQfBP.dpuf