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Monday, December 1, 2014

Commercial surrogacy banned in Thailand

The junta has given approval to a draft law banning commercial surrogacy in Thailand in the wake of a series of highly publicized scandals which have highlighted failures in the country's surrogacy industry.

The Bangkok Post reported Friday that the bill had passed on its first reading with a vote of 177 in favor, two against and six abstentions.

Eighteen members of the National Legislative Assembly - a 200 member-body fully appointed by the junta July 31 - had been appointed to scrutinize the draft.

The legislation followed an international outcry over accusations that an Australian couple abandoned a baby born to a Thai surrogate mother and a Japanese man fathered around 15 children through surrogate mothers.

There were previously no laws governing surrogacy in Thailand, which had made the kingdom a favored destination for those who cannot have children naturally and are looking for surrogate mothers.

The newspaper reported that the NLA had debated the legislation at length.

One member claimed that surrogacy technology answered the needs of couples who cannot have children and that children form an important part of a family as a social institution while another member argued in support of the bill, saying that unethical and illegal surrogacies had "gone on for too long."

According to the Department of Health Service Support, a division of the Thai health ministry, the country's "commercial surrogacy industry" is worth $125 million each year.

There are around 20 surrogacy agencies, mostly owned by foreigners, in Thailand, the sector expanding after India adopted stricter surrogacy laws in late 2012.

On average, a Thai surrogate mother's cut of the fee paid by commissioning parents is $14,000, the largest share going to the agency.


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