By PONGPHON SARNSAMAK
Women who are not relatives to be allowed to carry babies for others
THAILAND is set to open up on surrogacy – to allow women who are willing to carry and deliver babies for others who are not their relatives.
Physicians involved in surrogate deliveries will be asked to register with the Medical Council of Thailand, in a bid to prevent illegal surrogate babies.
Council president Dr Somsak Lohlekha said the medical body was looking at revising the regulation to allow women to carry babies for others who are not their relatives, to help those women who want to have children but do not have relatives.
To date, women are only allowed to ask relatives to get pregnant and deliver babies for them if they cannot get pregnant themselves. Under the new regulation, women who have trouble getting pregnant or have had their womb removed will be allowed to ask other women who are not relatives to carry and deliver babies for them. Moreover, the council will only allow women aged between 20 and 35 years to be surrogate mothers.
They must also have prior pregnancy experience and be able to deliver babies. That means they must be healthy enough to be surrogate mothers. Moreover, they also must get paid for being surrogate mothers, Somsak said.
“The council is now considering how to prevent the use of this arrangement for commercial purposes,” he said after a meeting of the Medical Council’s executive committee on Thursday (Sept 12).
Somsak said Thailand was well known as a country that offers surrogacy services as it has no regulation to forbid this. Moreover, there are many advertisements luring women who have trouble getting pregnant to use surrogate mothers in Thailand and selling eggs for them. Some websites display pictures of women with beautiful faces to lure people to buy their eggs – which are usually priced at about Bt10,000.
“Since India and China banned surrogacy, we found many foreigners had headed straight to Thailand to undergo surrogacy secretly, as Thailand has no regulation strictly to control this service,” Somsak said. Thailand had been heavily condemned by the international community, he noted, for being a hub of illegal surrogate services.
Last year, Thai police arrested a Taiwanese gang that lured Vietnamese women to become surrogate mothers for children to be adopted by rich foreigners. The scam was uncovered when immigration police raided a house in Bangkok and rescued 13 of such women. The case also involved hospitals and personnel providing surrogacy services.
Somsak said there were about 100 obstetricians aiding surrogate services around the country. However, to prevent illegal surrogate services, the Medical Council will issue a new regulation asking obstetricians to receive training on providing surrogacy services and to register with them.
That way, the council would be able to record the number of obstetricians who can provide such a service. “If we can regulate the obstetricians that would mean we can control illegal surrogate services,” Somsak explained.
The regulation is now being drafted by the Royal Thai College of the Obstetricians, he said, and Gynaecologists and is expected to be implemented in near future.