Thailand has moved to ban commercial surrogacy for foreigners following a scandal in which a six-month-old baby with Down syndrome was abandoned to his Thai surrogate mother by his Australian parents.
The baby boy, Gammy, was born with serious medical complications. His Thai mother claimed the Australian couple took home his healthy twin sister and abandoned him, although the couple denies the allegations. After news of Gammy broke, the case of a Japanese man who fathered 12 children by different surrogate mothers in Thailand surfaced, according to NPR.
Gammy is now living with Pattaramon Chanbua, the woman paid to give birth to him. To help cope with raising the boy, an Australian charity has donated a larger house to her as well as a modest monthly allowance and Australian citizenship.
[quote text_size=”small” author=”– Pattaramon Chanbua” author_title=”Gammy’s surrogate mother”]
I don’t regret anything about the surrogacy. I don’t blame anyone. To me, Gammy is a blessing.
Mitsutoki Shigeta, the mysterious young Japanese man who sired the 12 babies all found living in a single apartment with nannies, is fighting for custody of the children. The babies are being kept in a state children’s shelter. Shigeta was awarded custody of three of the children last month, despite concerns over his motives, the BBC reported.
The Thai military junta quickly took action on Friday, complaining that Thailand has become “the womb of Asia” while stopping foreign couples at airports who had children born to Thai surrogate mothers, the Washington Post reported.
Officials have said that existing laws already make surrogacy illegal except in cases where the parents are medically unable to have a child, and even then, surrogate mothers cannot be paid. These laws have been largely ignored and surrogacy has flourished in the country as foreigners pay large sums of money to poor women.
In the United States, surrogacy is highly regulated and may cost up to $100,000, and commercial surrogacy is banned in several states. In Thailand, surrogacy costs closer to $40,000.
On Friday, the government put in place new rules that criminalize paid surrogacy, which is now punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The government has banned foreigners from hiring surrogates, bans all paid surrogacies and bans agencies from soliciting surrogate mothers.