BANGKOK: A new laws banning commercial surrogacy has come into effect in Thailand, a destination popular with foreigners and gay couples looking for cheaper surrogacy services. The law banning commercial surrogacy was passed in February and came into effect from this month.
The law came after outrage following an Australian couple last year leaving a surrogate twin boy who had Down Syndrome behind in Thailand, taking his healthy sister. The controversy triggered an immediate backlash in Thailand, forcing commercial surrogate operators to shut down operations.
Under the new law, a couple, a man and a woman, to avail surrogacy must be legally married for at least three years with one or both holding Thai nationality. The surrogate mother is required to be a sibling of the couple, but not the parents or the couple's children.
The surrogate woman must also have her own child and have her husband's consent. If the woman is not a relative of the couple, the woman needs to meet regulations laid down by the Thai public health ministry.
Public Health Minister Rajata Rajatanavin said foreign couples would no longer be able to seek surrogacy services in Thailand. The new law prohibits commercial surrogacy serving foreign clients, with violations punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to 200,000 baht (USD 6,200).