After the abandonment of a surrogate-born baby Gammy with Down’s syndrome by an Australian couple and as a case of nine surrogate babies allegedly with the same Japanese father hogged the limelight, Thailand banned commercial surrogacy on August 6.
Unregulated surrogacy industry flourished in Thailand without any resistance for years before discovery of the nine babies under the care of nannies in Bangkok soon after an Australian couple abandoned their surrogate-born boy with Down’s syndrome, while taking home their healthy twin sisters. For years, Thailand was a go-get destination for infertile couples in the highly unregulated market.
According to the draft, the new law would prohibit commercial surrogacy and those violating the law will face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to 200,000 baht ($6,200). Agencies, advertisers or recruiters of surrogate mothers will face up to five years in jail and a fine of up to 100,000 baht ($3,100).
The move came after surrogate-born baby Gammy, who is being raised by his surrogate mother in eastern Thailand. The surrogate woman’s allegation that his Australian biological parents took home their healthy daughter and abandoned the blond, brown-eyed boy with Down syndrome and a congenital heart condition sparked outrage worldwide. (Source: www.theguardian.com)
Another equally important snag with surrogacy industry in Thailand is Gender Section IVF. Gender selection is illegal in India, but a growing number of women are finding a way round the ban by going to Thailand where there are no laws against it. Doctors use preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), a method that involves producing embryos through IVF and implanting only those of the desired gender into the womb.
Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) enables the identification of genetic diseases in the embryo before pregnancy is established, and eliminates the need for possible pregnancy termination after prenatal diagnosis of a genetically affected fetus. Determining the sex of the embryo to avoid X-linked disorders remains a common indication for PGD, and the vast majority of such cases are carried out using fluorescence in-situ hybridization (FISH) with DNA probes derived from the X and Y chromosomes.
Couples from around the world flock to Thailand for cheap, reliable gender selection treatment. But while half of them from the UK, Australia, Europe and the US are looking to have girls to balance their families, Indian couples have only one motivation as they want male heirs.
Thailand has 42 clinics and medical institutes and 240 doctors licensed to use assisted reproductive technology. After tightening laws on commercial surrogacy, the gender identification is the major stumbling block to control unregulated surrogacy sector.