Surrogate mothers 'need protection'

PHOTO: Surrogate mothers 'need protection'

THAILAND - Thai experts yesterday called for legislation that ensures protection of the rights of surrogate mothers and also covers the rights and duties of sperm/egg donors and newborns.

The calls were made during a National Human Rights Commis-sion (NHRC) public forum on the matter.

Suchada Thaweesit, a lecturer at Mahidol University's Institute for Population and Social Research, warned that amid high demand among couples with reproduction issues or homosexual couples wishing to create their own family, surrogate mothers' rights could be violated or neglected.

Such violations are of particular concern in regard to underground procedures, hence the law must based on the actual situation faced by surrogate mothers, she said.

She said these women, already exposed to health risks from pregnancy, should also be protected in both economic and cultural respects to ensure they are not taken advantage of in contracts.

"Technology-induced pregnancy including hormone injections could affect their body, hence surrogate mothers should be protected and not be subject to arrest and punishment," she added.

Rights protection and care should prenatal, during pregnancy and post-natal in case of complications, said the academic.

If they were well informed, they could make decisions by themselves and thus be less likely to be taken advantage of or have their rights violated by a middleman, she said.

NHRC expert Sappasit Kumpra-pan said a surrogate mother suffering from after-birth complications was entitled to care and compensation from the hirer.

He said surrogate pregnancy should not be an out-of-system service, as couples seeking to have babies via surrogate mothers were a matter for which the law should provide health assistance and ensure fairness.

The law should also clearly identify relationships among sperm/egg donors, surrogate mothers and newborns, while ensuring their rights, duties and responsibilities, he said.

As the surrogacy outcry in Thailand has led to certain nations expressing concern about newborns being taken out of the Kingdom, Sappasit urged the authorities to work closely with foreign embassies as it is about a birth and must therefore involve the issuance of a birth certificate and a passport.

Meanwhile, Australia's Daily Telegraph newspaper reported that after the Thai surrogacy crackdown in the wake of the baby Gammy scandal, Australian couple - Adam and Kate Osborne - now had to hole up at a Bangkok hotel with their twin girls born to a surrogate mother on July 22.

The crackdown has reportedly made it difficult for families to leave the country with their surrogate children - an action now viewed as human trafficking in Thailand, the newspaper said.

The couple has, therefore, set up a crowd-funding page to finance a legal battle, which has so far raised 4,000 Australian dollars (Bt119,000).

On the page, the father claimed the twin girls had all their relevant paperwork, but Thailand viewed it as though the couple were stealing someone's children because the babies' birth certificates had the surrogate's name as their mother.

Meanwhile, Bangkok police will meet today to draw up guidelines in the event that Mitsutoki Shigeta, the Japanese man at the centre of the surrogacy scandal, shows up in the country.

While police had taken samples of Shigeta's DNA for testing, they would still prefer to talk to him in person, deputy city police chief Pol Maj-General Thitirat Nonghanpitak said yesterday.