Thai parliament votes to ban commercial surrogacy
Thailand’s parliament has voted to ban commercial surrogacy after outrage erupted over the unregulated industry following a series scandals.
The latest case includes an Australian couple accused of abandoning a baby with Down’s syndrome.
A draft bill – which would see those caught profiting from surrogacy punished with up to 10 years in prison – passed its first reading in the country’s military-stacked parliament on Thursday (Nov 27).
"We want to put an end to this idea in foreigners’ minds that Thailand is a baby factory," lawmaker Wallop Tungkananurak told AFP.
"The bill was adopted with overwhelming support," he added.
The bill also forbids "any middlemen or agencies... receiving any assets or benefits" through the surrogacy process.
Under its current wording it is unlikely foreigners will be able to use Thailand as a surrogacy destination.
The murky industry came under intense scrutiny this summer after a series of surrogacy scandals broke involving foreigners, prompting the promise of a crack down by Thailand’s military junta.
Dozens, possibly hundreds, of foreign couples are thought to now be in limbo after entering into surrogacy arrangements through clinics in the kingdom.
Commercial surrogacy has always been officially banned by Thailand’s Medical Council, but until recently even top fertility clinics were believed to offer the service
"The situation is at the moment very complicated,” said Mr Sam Everingham, from Families Through Surrogacy in Australia.
“Many Thai employees of surrogacy agencies have fled, some Thai hospitals have refused to accept surrogacy births, and foreign intended parents have been very stressed and concerned about the health of their surrogates," he added.