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Surrogacy in Thailand: What You Need To Know

Hatch Fertility

Surrogacy is complex and can be an emotionally charged issue for some, and the laws and regulations surrounding it vary significantly from place to place. In some countries, surrogacy is completely banned, while in others it is legal but strictly regulated. In still others, surrogacy is legal and largely unregulated. Learn more about the legal status of surrogacy in Thailand for international parents and same-sex couples. 

Surrogacy Laws in Thailand

Before delving into the legal status of surrogacy in Thailand, it is worth noting that the legal status of surrogacy can change quickly and can be difficult to keep track of, so it is always best to consult with a local attorney or other legal experts for the most up-to-date and accurate information.

The Ban on Commercial Surrogacy

The Thai government shut down all commercial surrogacy in 2014. Shortly afterward, a federal law was passed in 2015 that made commercial surrogacy illegal for all intended parents, even if they were Thai citizens. Commercial Surrogacy (a.k.a. compensated surrogacy) is any arrangement in which the woman is compensated for her services beyond reimbursement for medical expenses. With Thailand declaring commercial surrogacy illegal for all intended parents, it made surrogacy illegal for international intended parents

Surrogacy Regulations and Restrictions

The 2015 laws provided regulations and restrictions that Thailand's surrogacy had never been subjected to before. The new restrictions also included:

  • Selling of sperm
  • Selling of oocytes (eggs)
  • Selling of embryos

Furthermore, same-sex couples are completely banned from completing surrogacy in Thailand even if they are Thai citizens. Only married heterosexual Thai couples can complete altruistic surrogacy in Thailand. However, there are additional rules and regulations in place; such as:

  • At least one spouse must hold Thai citizenship.
  • The couple must have been married for at least 3 years.
  • A surrogate must be a sibling of one member of the couple.
  • The surrogate must also be married, have her husband's consent, and previously have given birth to her child.
  • A woman who is not biologically related to a husband or wife is allowed to serve as a surrogate only if the couple does not have a blood relative capable of doing so.

History of Surrogacy in Thailand 

Historically, India used to be the more favorable destination, since in India, the clients who paid for the fertilized embryo automatically became the child’s legal parents. As a result, Thailand skyrocketed in popularity after India imposed restrictions on surrogacy tourism in 2012.

Thailand became a popular choice for international intended parents, especially Australians. However, one Australian couple’s story and one Japanese Man's story led to today’s restrictive laws on Surrogacy in Thailand. During the summer of 2014, several significant scandals involving surrogacy tourism in Thailand came to light and ethical considerations led to the ban of surrogacy in Thailand in the wake of two major scandals: the ‘Baby Gammy” case and the “Baby Factory” case.

The "Baby Gammy" Case

Australian natives David and Wendy Farnell traveled to Thailand to complete a surrogacy process. The Farnells’ surrogate ended up pregnant with twins, one boy, and one girl. However, when the twins were born in 2013, the Farnells returned to Australia with only their daughter, Pipah.

When their son Gammy was born with down syndrome, their surrogate alleged that the Farnells abandoned their son in Thailand after she refused to get an abortion. David Farnell alleged that the surrogacy clinic’s doctor only informed the couple about a girl. However, The surrogate said the couple had stayed in Thailand for a month following the birth, as both twins were hospitalized.

The surrogate took custody of Gammy after the parents left the country. The surrogate applied for custody of Pipah, as well, but was denied when a court found the Farnells had not legally abandoned Gammy.

The Mitsutoki Shigeta Case

Known as the “baby factory” case, Mitsutoki Shigeta was awarded paternity rights to over 13 babies he fathered through Thai surrogate mothers. In 2014, Shigeta was investigated by Interpol for human trafficking after it emerged he had fathered 16 children born via surrogacy. His Bangkok apartment was raided and police found nine surrogate babies, nannies, and a pregnant surrogate mother there.

Current State of Surrogacy in Thailand

For Thai citizens, Even with current rules and regulations, there are currently no provisions in place to protect the rights and interests of surrogates and children. As for international surrogacy, Surrogacy still exists in Thailand, however, it occurs illegally and without protections for surrogates and international intended parents.

Where To Pursue Surrogacy Legally

International parents can still become a parent through Surrogacy in the United States. Surrogacy is highly recommended in the United States for a safe, well-regulated process that will protect the rights of both intended parents and surrogates. 

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