Don't be a surrogate for money, mother warns

Don't be a surrogate for money, mother warns
Gammy, a baby born with Down's Syndrome, is kissed by his surrogate mother Pattaramon Janbua at a hospital in Chonburi province August 3, 2014.

A surrogate mother yesterday warned her fellow Thais not to get involved in commercial surrogacy for foreign customers - as she now faces financial, legal and ethical difficulties after poor Gammy, her six-month-old baby boy, was rejected by his Australian biological parents and could die.

"I would like to tell Thai women, don't get into this business as a surrogate. Don't just think only about the money," Pattaramon Chanbua was quoted by the Sydney Morning Herald as saying.

"If something goes wrong, no one will help us and the baby will be abandoned from society, then we have to take responsibility for that," the Thai mother said.

Thai law allows only cases in which a married couple cannot conceive a child and engages a blood relative to carry their child in an altruistic arrangement.

Physicians have discussed for years whether commercial surrogacy should be allowed and legalised.

There have been reports that dozens of children born through Thai surrogates for foreign couples have remained in Thailand since late last year due to problems with travel documents and legal matters.

Pattaramon, a somtam vendor from Chon Buri, and her family were fighting to pay off debts last year when she was offered Bt300,000 (S$11,633) to be a surrogate mother.

The case caused shock and outrage when the Australian couple abandoned the baby boy after he was found to have Down's syndrome and a life-threatening heart condition.

Pattaramon said three months after a doctor injected the Australian woman's fertilised egg into her uterus, she discovered she was carrying twins. The agent promised her an extra Bt50,000 for the second baby.

Four months into the pregnancy, doctors doing routine checks discovered one of the babies had Down's syndrome. They told the Australian parents, who said they did not want to take the boy.

"They told me to have an abortion but I didn't agree because I am afraid of sinning," Pattaramon said, referring to her Buddhist beliefs.

When the babies were born the agent took the healthy girl and left the boy with her.

Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said yesterday that a question of "moral responsibility" should determine the fate of Gammy.

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