04/15/2016, 20.12
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Baby Gammy’s twin sister to remain in Australia even if father convicted of child sex offences

Pipah and her Down syndrome brother, Gammy, were born in 2014 to a Thai surrogate mother. Their parents took her and left Gammy in Thailand. When she found out that the father had been convicted of child sex offences, the surrogate mother tried to get her daughter, but the judge said no.

Bangkok (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The story of Gammy, the child born to Thai surrogate mother and abandoned by his Australian biological parents because of his Down syndrome, has a new twist.

In Australia, a court has decided that Gammy’s twin sister, Pipah, will continue to live with their parents even though the father is a convicted child sex offender.

The ‘baby Gammy’ case became front-page news in the summer of 2014, when David Farnell and his wife Wenyu Li had two twins via a Thai surrogate mother, Pattaramon Chanbua.

The couple caused a stir when they returned home only with Pipah, and left her brother Gammy because he had Down’s syndrome with the surrogate mother.

Recently, reports indicate that Mr Farnell was convicted of molesting minors in the 1990s. When she was informed of the fact, Pattaramon Chanbua sought to gain custody of Pipah and have her returned to Thailand, but failed.

The latest turn in the saga comes in the form of a 272-page decision by an Australian judge.

"I have decided Pipah should not be removed from the only family she has ever known, in order to be placed with people who would be total strangers to her," said Chief Judge Stephen Thackray in the Family Court of Western Australia.

"I have accepted the expert evidence that while there is a low risk of harm if Pipah stays in that home, there is a high risk of harm if she were removed," he said.

The conditions attached to the two-year-old's stay in Australia included Farnell not being left alone with Pipah and the couple always keeping Western Australia's Department for Child Protection informed of their address.

The judge also found that Gammy, who he said appeared to be "thriving" in his Thai home, was not abandoned by the Farnells, but rather Pattaramon wanted to keep him.

In 2014, Pattaramon had claimed that the Farnells at first requested an abortion and then walked away when they learnt of his condition.

In recent past, Thailand had become a favourite destination for foreign gay and straight couples to rent a uterus (for up to US$ 13,000).

Following the Baby Gammy case, Thai authorities passed new legislation to regulate the practice and defend better children’s rights.

An Act to Protect Babies Born through Assisted Reproductive Technologies came into effect on 30 July 2015, ending the ‘rent-a-uterus’ market.

The law bans commercial surrogacy and the trade of sperm and eggs. The only people entitled to use assisted reproductive technology are Thai heterosexual couples who are childless and married.

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