Thailand Closes Surrogacy Clinics: New Law May Ban

by admin on August 19, 2014

After a number of recent news stories surfaced concerning unsavory activities involving commercial surrogacy in Thailand, Thai government offices are working to establish laws and take legal action against commercial surrogacy.

Currently, Thailand has no enacted legislation dealing expressly with commercial surrogacy. Most recently, though, the National Council for Peace and Order gave preliminary approval last week, according to the Bangkok Post, to a draft surrogacy law for Thailand  from 2004, known as the Protection of Children Born as a Result of Assisted Reproductive Technologies Bill.

The law, which would make commercial surrogacy in Thailand a criminal offence and provide regulations for surrogacy in Thailand, needs final approval from the National Legislative Assembly and a formal endorsement by Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej to take effect. An English translation of the Thailand surrogacy draft law is available on Thai Law Forum.

In another branch of government, Thai PBS reported that Thailand’s Medical Council, which regulates the conduct of licensed physicians in Thailand, has prohibited Thailand physicians from providing or assisting with commercial surrogacy services, and has banned surrogacy advertisements. Preexisting Medical Council regulations did ban the use of paid surrogates and required a surrogate to be either a blood relative or an in-law to the couple seeking her help.

Medical Council secretary-general, Dr Samphan Komrith, said, according to Thai PBS, that the amended announcement would also ban same-sex couples and single persons from seeking surrogacy services. The amended announcement will take effect September 1.

The Thai police have also been busy investigationg and enforcing various related laws as there is no express surrogacy law. Various clinics involved in the recent Thai surrogacy situations are being investigated due to violations of the preexisting Medical Council regulations.

The Bangkok Post reported that Police Col. Chitpob Tomuan, superintendent of the Anti-Human Trafficking Division, said the (baby factory) case is being treated as a violation of a Thai law on medical facilities and the Medical Council’s regulations on assisted reproduction technology services. The Thai Law on Human Trafficking is also being considered as an enforcement option for surrogacy cases involving more extreme, suspicious behavior.

Following is a summary of some of the recent news stories that have been developing.

Baby Gammy

The first case that brought Thailand’s lack of surrogacy laws to the international spotlight concerned Austrailian couple, David and Wendy Farnell, whose Thai surrogate, Pattaramon Chanbua, gave birth to twins in December 2013. According to the Bangkok Post, the Farnells took the girl twin, Pipah, home to Austrailia, but are accused by Chanbua of abadoning the boy twin, Gammy, who was born with Down syndrome.

“Baby Factory” Scandal

The other public case involves a Japanese businessman, Mitsutoki Shigeta, who allegedly fathered up to 21 surrogacy babies, according to The Nation. Shigeta came under investigation after Thai authorities found nine babies, ages two weeks to two years, living with seven nannies and a woman seven-months pregant in rented rooms at a condo in Lat Phrao.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Shigeta left Thailand hours after the condo raid. The Lat Phrao police are in charge of the investigation, and the Anti-Human Trafficking Division is assisting, to find out Shigeta’s real intentions for fathering so many children. Police Col. Tomuan said, according to The Bangkok Post, that “legal action will be taken against the people concerned if the scandal involves human trafficking.”

Couples Caught in the Middle

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that “Thai immigration authorities had advised the Australian embassy in Bangkok that couples (involved in current Thai surrogacy cases) will require an order of the court confirming the birth mother has given up her rights to custody of the child.”

Thailand child custody law dictates that both legal parents of a child have full custodial rights. A mother is deemed a legal parent based on giving birth to a child. As a result, a surrogate carrying a baby for an intended parent couple is still the lawful mother pursuant to Thai law.

On the other hand, a father is deemed to be a lawful parent based on either marriage to the lawful mother or a government registration process that normally involves a court hearing. As a result, an intended parent who is the sperm donor for a baby born by a surrogate does not have automatic legal rights as a lawful parent pursuant to Thai law, according to Jiraporn Thongphong of Chaninat and Leeds.

Last week four couples with Thai children were stopped at airports and prevented from leaving Thailand. The Nation reported that one Australian same-sex couple was “permitted to leave Thailand with a surrogate baby after background checks by Thai immigration authorities.”

 

For more legal information related to surrogacy in Thailand see:

Thailand Law on Medical Facilities

Thailand Draft Law on Surrogacy

Thailand Anti-Human Trafficking Act

 

Related Articles:

New Draft Law to Regulate Surrogacy in Thailand

Clinic Under Investigation in Thailand-Australia Surrogacy Case

 

 

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