Thailand approves surrogacy ban
Thailand's military-picked legislature has passed a law that criminalises commercial surrogacy and prevents foreigners from seeking surrogacy services in the kingdom.
The law, which prohibits the act of hiring women commercially to carry foetuses to term, aims to stop Thailand from being a surrogacy hub for foreign couples.
Thailand was rocked by several surrogacy scandals last year. One involved an Australian couple who but left behind a twin baby who had Down's syndrome. The other case involved a Japanese man who fathered at least 16 babies via Thai surrogates.
Previously, the South-east Asia nation was one of the few countries in Asia where commercial surrogacy was not specifically banned by law. The medical council of Thailand has a regulation stating that doctors risk losing their licence if they perform surrogacy for pay. Thailand became a go-to destination for couples from Australia, Hong Kong and Taiwan and a low-cost alternative to the United States.
"Surrogacy business leaves too much long-term trouble for Thailand, so we are banning foreign couples from seeking surrogacy in our country to avoid being a hub and to prevent what we saw last year," National Legislative Assembly member Wanlop Tangkananurak said.
The parliament voted 160 to 2 to pass the law.
Under the new law, a Thai couple is allowed to seek a surrogate to carry the foetus only if they are able to prove that they and their relatives are infertile. A couple with one Thai spouse seeking surrogacy must be married for at least three years.
It also says that anyone involved in commercial surrogacy will face a maximum jail term of 10 years and a maximum fine of 200,000 baht (£3,900).