New laws get tough on Thailand's surrogacy services

In the past seven months, four married couples applied for permission from a 17-strong committee under the Department of Health Service Support (DHSS) to have a surrogate child.

Sixty-four facilities - 50 private and 75 per cent located in Central Thailand - were registered to provide assisted reproductive technology services.

DHSS chief Boonreung Traireungworarat revealed the information during a Bangkok meeting to explain to 350 public and private medical representatives the Protection of Child Born by Assisted Reproductive Technology Act 2015 and its 15 organic laws.

The Act, which came into effect last July, bans the selling of eggs, sperm and embryos while requiring eligible couples to be married under Thai law while at least one spouse must be Thai and they must be married for at least three years. Financial gain from the action is prohibited.

The Act requires a surrogate mother to be aged between 20 and 40, to have her own child before the surrogacy and not serve as a surrogate more than two times.

"In case of foreign couples who have difficulty in conceiving a child, they can't apply for a surrogate service," Boonreung said, adding however that they can use medical technologies at international-standard hospitals in Thailand that can aid the reproductive process.

Those technologies include gamete intrafallopian transfer, zygote intrafallopian transfer and intrauterine insemination.

Bureau of Sanatofium and Healing Arts director Arkhom Praditsuwan urged authorised doctors and facilities to adhere to the laws and report their results and the health conditions of surrogate mothers and the children within 45 days of birth.

He said the termination of surrogate pregnancies due to mothers suffering health problems must be reported within 30 days after the termination.

He said the 64 registered facilities were also required to submit an annual report covering provided services and keep records for at least 20 years after a child's birth.

The Act has clear punishments outlined such as a doctor unqualified to perform the service being jailed for up to one year and/or fined up to Bt20,000 (S$787), and a surrogate mother who carries a baby for commercial gain being jailed for up to 10 years and/or fined up to Bt200,000.

Surrogacy middleman face jail terms of up to five years and/or fines of up to Bt100,000 while a person selling sperms, eggs or embryos could be jailed for three years and fined Bt60,000. For details more, call DHSS hotline 02-193-7999.