Couples prevented from leaving Thailand with surrogate babies

Couples prevented from leaving Thailand with surrogate babies
Surrogate babies that Thai police suspect were fathered by a Japanese businessman who has fled from Thailand are shown on a screen during a news conference

Two Australian same-sex couples with their surrogate babies were stopped by Thai officials from leaving Bangkok airport on Thursday, according to Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

One of the couples was travelling with the Thai surrogate mother. Immigration officers were acting on the instruction of authorities, ABC said.

Two American couples were also stopped as they had also tried to leave Thailand with babies, reported Bangkok Post.

These cases follow the recent scandal over Pattaramon Janbua, a Thai surrogate mother, who was left with a Down syndrome baby abandoned by his Australian biological parents due to his disability. The couple has since denied this claim on national television in an interview with Australia's "60 Minutes" programme on Sunday night. The father, David Farnell, said he and his wife had asked for a refund when they found out that baby Gammy would be born with Down's syndrome.

"I said: 'Give us back our money, this is your fault'," Farnell said in the interview, referring to the Bangkok-based surrogacy agency.

Farnell said: "We didn't leave him behind. We wanted to bring him back with us but things were happening that we couldn't. The surrogate mother wanted to take our girl, and we were getting scared that we were going to lose her. We had to try and get out as fast as we could."

The father, David Farnell,

Reuters reported that Thailand's military government responded to international outcry over the scandal by giving preliminary approval on Aug 13 for a draft law to make commercial surrogacy a criminal offence.

ABC has learned immigration authorities have been ordered by police not to allow surrogate babies to leave Thailand without a court order.

Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has reportedly asked Thai authorities to permit Australians who have already paid surrogacy agencies and mothers to complete their arrangements before enforcing a ban.

ssandrea@sph.com.sg

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