With Thailand Shut Down, Is Commercial Surrogacy Tourism Dead?

surrogate babies(Commercial Surrogacy Tourism, part 1)

1,000 babies are born annually in Thailand to surrogates on behalf of foreign couples and individuals.

Worldwide, an estimated 6,000 babies were born last year via commercial surrogacy tourism.

Yet seemingly overnight last month, police in Thailand shut down clinics, stopped parents with newborn infants from getting on flights out of the country, and sent some newborns off to orphanages.

Surrogacy services in Thailand have been available to all couples, foreign and domestic, gay or straight, and single men and women. Unauthorized surrogacy procedures have been performed for many years at several clinics, hospitals, and even medical schools by qualified practitioners.[Tweet “6,000 babies were born last year via commercial surrogacy tourism”]

[su_column size=”1/2″]Quite unexpectedly, a birth rights law passed by Thailand’s parliament early this year set off a perfect storm of reaction and response to surrogacy tourism in the country.

The new law, meant to clarify local domestic concerns, unwittingly immediately placed into legal limbo 50 infants newly born of surrogate mothers to Israeli couples. The Israeli embassy in Bangkok believed the law placed new restrictions on the citizenship of the babies and it could no longer grant travel documents to them, thus stranding the babies in Thailand.
[su_column size=”1/2″] [su_note note_color=”#f8f8f4″]1. With Thailand Shut Down, Is Commercial Surrogacy Tourism Dead?
2. Is Commercial Surrogacy Tourism So Bad?
3. Commercial Surrogacy Is Here To Stay – Laws Are Changing
4. How Much Does Commercial Surrogacy Cost?
5. [INFOGRAPHIC] Commercial Surrogacy Tourism[/su_note]

Down’s syndrome twin “Baby Gammy”

Weeks later, an enterprising young journalist came across an on line advertisement seeking surrogates, and decided to do a news report on what it might be like to hire out as a surrogate mother.

By chance, she interviewed the surrogate mother of twins born in surrogacy to an Australian couple. One of the twin infants suffered from Down’s syndrome, and the surrogate mother claimed that the couple had rejected the infant and only took home to Australia the twin’s healthy sister.[Tweet “With Thailand shut down, is commercial surrogacy tourism dead?”]

While the surrogate was willing to care for the boy, “Baby Gammy” as he became known, she said the couple refused to pay for the boy’s health care expenses. In fact, she claimed, the parents wanted her to abort the baby – against the law in this Buddhist country where all life is sacred.

The reporter’s story sparked a national outcry and pleas of help for the surrogate who later said she kept the baby because she feared he would end up in a state institution.

Meanwhile, Australian news media raised questions about the fitness of the father after finding court records showing that he was convicted and imprisoned for 22 counts of child sexual abuse in the 1990s.

Commercial surrogacy chaos

Commercial Surrogacy TourismIn the fallout from the “Baby Gammy” kerfuffle,

  • Australian and American parents and their infants were refused exit at the airport by Thai passport authorities.
  • More than a dozen Australian and American couples were stranded in Bangkok unable to complete travel documents that would allow their newly born or about-to-be-born surrogate infants to take them home to their new countries.
  • A 24-year-old Japanese father of, at latest count, 16 infants fled Thailand at midnight on the first available flight, to Macao, abandoning 9 babies to the care of hired nannies in a rental apartment.
  • Foreign diplomats appealed to the military junta to consider the rights of infants.
  • Babies were being plucked from the care of surrogates and nannies and taken to a state orphanage outside of Bangkok.
  • Thai surrogates have gone into hiding and stopped going for pre-natal checkups fearing they will be penalized by the new law.
  • Fertility clinics were shut down by the police.
  • Fertility specialists are scrambling to get their names removed from medical tourism websites.
  • Hospitals refuse to allow surrogate mothers to give birth.
  • Doctors are being summoned for questioning.
  • Lawyers and politicians have been arguing the legalities of surrogacy and have hurriedly written a new law for consideration by the military junta.
  • The New York Times wrote about a village in northeast Thailand where young mothers were getting rich by local standards working as surrogates or egg donors for clinics in Bangkok.

Meanwhile, Thai police are investigating the Japanese man’s claim that as the son of a Japanese billionaire, he needed so many children to look after the family fortune. Australian police are looking for Baby Gammy’s father and newly investigating him as a fit parent given his previous child abuse convictions.

And parents are still sitting in Thai hotel rooms and rental apartments waiting for permission to take their new babies out of Thailand.

Continue to Part 2: Is Commercial Surrogacy Tourism So Bad?

This is the first of a 4-part series, Commercial Surrogacy Tourism: How Much Do You Pay For A Surrogate Mother In Another Country?.

The infographic is here.

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