Thailand, previously one of the go-to places for surrogacy in the world, has banned commercial surrogacy by foreigners. The country joins a growing list of Asian countries that have banned the practice.
Thailand was a widely preferred destination for surrogacy owing to its record low surrogacy prices. In the U.S., finding a mother to carry a couple’s embryo would cost $150,000 while in Thailand, the cost falls to $50000. This was, however, when the act was still legal.
The law against foreign commercial surrogacy took effect on July 30. The law completely prohibits foreigners from seeking surrogates in Thailand, imposing fines of up to $6200 for breach.
Surrogacy involves implanting an embryo into the mother and letting her carry the fetus. The donating couple would then have the baby after birth.
The current law came to be after a string of scandals that painted foreigners seeking surrogates in bad light. In one incident, an Australian couple left behind a surrogate boy after they discovered he had Down Syndrome and took away his healthy sister. The incident caused uproar from the country’s citizens, leading to the ban.
In another incident, the son of a Japanese billionaire sought to have children with over 12 Thai women, in a self indulgent bid to create replicas of himself.
The new law only allows surrogacy for native heterosexual Thai couples who have been married for more than three years. In addition, the surrogate mother is required to be a sibling of the couple, but not the parent of the couple’s other children. She must also have her husband’s consent and her own children.
The new law also grants intended parents full rights over the child. In the previous law, the surrogate mother had full rights over the child despite having no genetic relation to the child.
According to Stephen Page, a surrogacy lawyer from Brisbane Australia, “What’s significant about it is that Thailand is not going to have international surrogacy anymore.”
However, analysts have expressed pessimism that the practice would die down. Page said, “When surrogacy is banned in one country, it invariably means the practice will flourish in other places. Other countries in Asia such as India and Nepal are also popular destinations for international surrogacy, and more people will now seek surrogates there.”
Having banned surrogacy, Thailand now joins the list of progressive nations that do not allow the practice. Though a handful of countries in the peninsula including India still practice it, it will only be a matter of time before they fall in line.