Singaporeans pay big bucks to rent a womb

Singaporeans pay big bucks to rent a womb

Singaporeans desperate to start a family have gone to countries such as Malaysia, India, the United States and Thailand and paid six-figure sums for a stranger to carry their baby.

Those in the know say people from Singapore have been having babies through surrogate mothers for at least the past decade. And in recent years, Bangkok has become a popular place for Singaporeans to rent a womb.

One man who advertises surrogacy services is Mr Michael Ho, who runs Singapore-based Asian Surrogates. He told The Sunday Times: "Singaporeans like to go to Bangkok as it's nearby and costs about the same as Malaysia. The Bangkok facilities are world-class and doctors are very experienced."

But he fears that may change in the wake of the Baby Gammy controversy, where a baby boy with Down syndrome was born to a young Thai surrogate and allegedly abandoned by his Australian parents.

The case has attracted international attention, leading the Thai authorities to crack down on doctors who perform commercial surrogacy procedures.

"I expect my business to take a total hit as Thai doctors are now afraid to do surrogacy procedures, as they risk losing their medical licences," said Mr Ho. "I have to explore sending new clients to India or close down."

The 60-year-old described himself as a property agent who went into the surrogacy business as a "sideline" in 2006.

He charges his clients $49,000 and that includes the surrogate mother's fees - "slightly more than half" - as well as what he pays his Thai agents. The couples pay more for in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatments and other hospital charges.

He said he has been getting under 10 clients a year, mostly Malaysians and Indonesians. It was only in recent years that a few Singaporeans have used his service.

"Surrogacy is not widely accepted in Singapore and in this part of the world," he said.

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