06/03/2022, 15.43
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Thailand seeking ways to stop illegal surrogacy

by Steve Suwannarat

The goal is to clean up the country's dubious reputation. Out of 20,000 patients, only 584 resorted to legal in-vitro fertilisation. Scores of children were born during the pandemic with some now in government care.

Bangkok (AsiaNews) – Thailand’s Department of Health Support Service (DHSS) and the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) plan to work together to put a stop to illegal surrogacy. To this end, the two agencies signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on 31 May.

The MoU seeks to clean up the country's dubious reputation as a hub for a practice that involves Thai women, but also women in neighbouring countries, a racket exploited by transnational crime groups and fuelled by demand from many regions of the world.

“Thailand is known as a hub for illegal surrogacy for Asian couples, who make up the majority of the 'clients' here. We need to work together to rein in the problem without sweeping it under the rug,” said DSI general director Triyarith Temahivong.

Currently the matter comes under the 2015 “Protection for Children Born Through Assisted Reproductive Technologies Act”.

In addition to placing restrictions[*] on surrogacy, the law bans the purchase, sale, import or export of human sperm, ova or embryos, imposing at least one year in prison for donors and up to 10 years for others.

The Ministry of Social Development and Human Security said that the law could be amended to allow foreign couples to have access to safe surrogacy.

Enforcing the legislation is also not easy. In fact, out of 20,000 patients who sought in-vitro fertilisation, only 584 followed the legal route.

What is more, scores of children were born during the COVID-19 pandemic; the ministry itself is currently caring for 19 newly born children.

The involvement of criminal gangs has been stressed several times. The latter are able to circumvent restrictions by exploiting women in need and taking advantage of the desire of sterile or unrecognised couples for children.

[*] Legal surrogacy has to be non-profit and limited to blood relatives.

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Thailand legalises abortion up to 20 weeks
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