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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Baby Gammy case: Thailand's ruling military considers draft law banning commercial surrogacy

Thailand's ruling military is considering draft laws to ban commercial surrogacy, creating uncertainty for Australians who already have pregnant surrogates in the country.
The changes come in the wake of controversy surrounding a West Australian couple accused by their Thai surrogate of abandoning their newborn son - known as baby Gammy, who has Down syndrome - and only taking home his healthy twin sister.

It was later revealed father David Farnell has 22 child sex convictions, including unlawful and indecent dealing with girls as young as seven when he was in his 20s, but he says the girl is "100 per cent safe" in his care.

Thailand's newly formed national assembly, which is heavily dominated by members of the military, has now been handed the draft laws. 

When approved, they will mean surrogacy can only take place when a married couple and a relative are involved. 

The laws may also include a provision for a baby to remain with the surrogate for between three and six months for breastfeeding.

The surrogate will also be considered as the child's legal mother.

The ruling army general does not want Thailand to be a surrogacy hub and is expected to move quickly to outlaw the practice, essentially ending a lucrative foreign market.

It remains unclear what the laws will mean for Australians who already have pregnant surrogates in Thailand.

Impoverished Thai mother Pattaramon Chanbua, 21, told the ABC earlier this month she gave birth to twins after agreeing to be a surrogate for Mr Farnell and his wife Wendy, with a promised payment of about $16,000.

She claims the couple rejected Gammy and returned to Australia with his healthy sister. The pair deny abandoning the boy.

Last week, Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop said she was in contact with authorities in Thailand about the issue.

Thai authorities said Ms Chanbua would not be charged with any offence.

However, the doctor and clinic owner involved in the surrogacy case would be prosecuted - they could face up to three years in jail.

Since the case of baby Gammy came to light, a number of fertility clinics have been raided and shut down.

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