Allison M. Whelan, J.D.
Senior Fellow, Center for Biotechnology & Global Health Policy, University of California, Irvine School of Law
Thailand’s interim parliament recently passed a law prohibiting foreigners from seeking Thai surrogates. The law was proposed and passed in response to several recent scandals and the growing surrogacy industry that has made Thailand one of the top destinations for “fertility tourism.” One of the most publicized controversies was “Gammy’s case,” in which a baby boy born to a Thai surrogate for an Australian man (the baby’s genetic father) and his wife was diagnosed with Down Syndrome. The couple abandoned Gammy but took his healthy twin sister. The Thai surrogate also claimed the parents asked her to abort both children when she was seven months pregnant. And in August 2014, authorities discovered that the 24-year old son of a Japanese billionaire had fathered at least a dozen babies by hiring surrogate mothers through Thai clinics.
The law makes commercial surrogacy a crime and bans foreign couples from seeking surrogacy services. The law does not, however, appear to prohibit non-commercial surrogacy among Thai citizens, provided that the surrogate is over twenty-five years old. Violations carry a prison sentence of up to ten years. Wanlop Tankananurak, a member of Thailand’s National Legislative Assembly, hailed the law, stating that it “aims to stop Thai women’s wombs from becoming the world’s womb.” Continue reading