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Thai draft law to restrict surrogacy arrangements

The Thai military government on Wednesday (Aug 13) announced that it had completed the drafting of a surrogacy legislation to be considered for approval by the National Legislative Assembly (NLA).

BANGKOK: The booming rent-a-womb business in Thailand has caused concern among Thais and prompted the military government to rush a surrogacy legislation for approval by lawmakers. If approved, the law will make it more difficult to undertake surrogacy arrangements, especially for foreigners who have made Thailand among their top destinations over the years.

The military government on Wednesday (Aug 13) announced that it had completed the drafting of a surrogacy legislation to be considered for approval by the National Legislative Assembly (NLA). The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO)'s deputy spokesperson, Pattamaphorn Rattanadilok Na Phuket said the draft would be tabled for approval during the current session of the NLA.

She said the NCPO also approved the drafts of another 14 legislations on Wednesday, and since it was established after the military coup, the NCPO had already approved 52 law drafts. The weekly NCPO meeting was chaired by NCPO chief, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha at the army office, here, on Wednesday.

The surrogacy law is aimed at protecting children born under such an arrangement after the discovery that there might be hundreds, if not thousands, of children born through surrogate mothers over the years.

The surrogacy issue came into the open after a report that an Australian couple left behind Gammy, a baby boy with Down's Syndrome, but took home his healthy twin sister. The couple have since said that they wanted the boy as well.

The matter then led to the discovery of nine surrogate babies with the same father in a condominium in central Bangkok two weeks ago, and a Japanese man said to have links to the cases has since disappeared.

The key provisions in the bill include requiring any couple who wish to have a child through a surrogate mother to be legally married, and the surrogate mother must be a relative to one of the couple, but not the parents or child of the couple. The surrogate mother must also have a least one child before agreeing to the arrangement and if she has a husband, she must get his permission first.

Commercially motivated surrogacy will not be allowed. According to the draft of the law, surrogacy can only be carried out by implanting an embryo from the egg of a woman fertilised with sperm from her husband in the surrogate mother's womb. Another way is with an embryo from the egg or sperm from wife or husband with sperm or egg from others, implanted in a surrogate mother's womb, but implanting the egg from a surrogate mother is prohibited.

The proposed punishment for those violating the law is a jail sentence of one year to 10 years and a fine of 20,000 baht (S$780) to 200,000 baht (S$7,800).

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