Saturday, 4 October 2014

India versus Thailand on Surrogacy

A slew of surrogacy scandals have lifted a lid on Thailand’s largely unregulated commercial surrogacy industry, which has been around for over a decade. Below are the few controversial cases that drew a large amount of flak and also led to Thai military government’s decision to draft a new law that is expected to outlaw the business of surrogacy.

Below are the three scandals that brought unregulated surrogacy sector of Thailand under scanner –

An Australian couple, who had hired a Thai surrogate to their twins, returned home with a healthy baby girl but left behind her twin brother with Down syndrome, in late July.

Shortly after, a new case of 24-year-old Japanese man who fathered at least 16 babies via Thai surrogates emerged.

A third case emerged when an Australian man charged with sexually abusing twin girls he fathered several years ago with a Thai surrogate. The man was charged in an Australian court last year for committing indecent acts with a child.

Thailand has become a favorite destination for couples from Australia, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, and a low-cost alternative to the United States. However, Thailand is one of the few countries in Asia where commercial surrogacy is not specifically banned by law. Previously, the Medical Council of Thailand had a regulation stating that doctors cannot perform surrogacy for pay or risk losing their license. But that penalty has rarely been enforced and there are no rules covering surrogacy agencies or surrogate mothers, leaving room for commercial surrogacy to occur without oversight.

Thailand's New Draft Law on Surrogacy

In response to the recent global attention, Thailand’s military government has vowed to shut down the commercial surrogacy industry. A draft law expected to pass the junta-appointed legislature sometime this year prohibits commercial surrogacy and would penalize offenders with up to 10 years in prison. Agencies, advertisers, or recruiters of surrogate mothers will face up to five years in jail and a fine of up to 100,000 baht ($3,000). Experts say they fear the law will not end commercial surrogacy in Thailand and instead push it underground.

Indian Surrogacy Laws remained lose for years, while the medical council continued its attempt to regulate surrogacy sector for years. After 2002, Surrogacy Laws in India have undergone an immense change. The Union of India is taking steps to for legalizing surrogacy and making India a risk-free destination when it comes to international surrogacy arrangements. The Indian Government is implementing legal mechanisms to ensure that the child born out of surrogacy arrangement in India would have a safe passage back home. Though such measures have affected few nationals, it could be considered legally safe in the long run for surrogacy in India.

After rounds of discussion with various ministries, the Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Bill, 2013 has been cleared and will be presented before Union Cabinet during winter session of 2014, confirmed a senior health ministry official on September 22. The decision comes closely after the regularisation and legal framework of Surrogacy in India was debated. The undeniable fact about several illegal ART units cropping up across the country to shortchange the infertile couples gives a reason for the urgent need of passing the bill.

Indian Government has also chalked out certain guidelines on surrogacy to make the whole process transparent and allow to hitches. The Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Bill, 2013 seeks to address issues like number of pregnancies allowed to a surrogate mother, age limit and due compensation paid to the surrogates. A framework would be designed for foreigners to seek surrogacy help from India surrogate mothers. With this, the issues of consent and health of surrogate mother would also be resolved.

The Health Ministry has considered the fact that commercial surrogacy changes to biological ability of a woman to reproduce into a commercial activity when money transaction is involved and lack of proper legal framework further complicated the whole process. 

Therefore, an immediate need of strong legal provisions to safeguard the interest of the surrogate mother, commissioning parents and the child born through surrogacy process has been considered.

Dr Neeraj Pahlajani

Obstetrician & IVF Specialist
(MS, DNB, FMAS, DRM - Germany)
MBBS - Lady Harding Medical College - New Delhi
MS - Obstetrics and Gynecology (PGI - Rohtak)
DNB - Obstetrics and Gynecology
FMAS - World Association of Laparoscopic Surgeons
DRM - Diploma in Reproductive Medicine (Germany)
Fellow in IVF & Embryology – (USA)

Pahlajani Test Tube Baby Centre
(Mata Laxmi Nursing Home)
Anupam Nagar, Near T.V. Tower, Raipur (Chhattisgarh) India
Phone:  +91- 771- 4052967, +91- 771- 4053285 Mobile:  +91- 9770997645, +91- 9329630455
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