Thai crackdown on surrogacy and gender selection
Thailand has until now been one of the major places that Australians go for surrogacy. As Australians have not been able (except for medical reasons) to undertake gender selection at home, they have undertaken gender selection in Thailand, amongst other countries.
It is illegal for those living in Queensland, NSW or the ACT to undertake commercial surrogacy in Thailand- but this has not stopped the deluge.
This appears now to have changed. I have heard reports today that the Thai military government is cracking down on Thai surrogacy clinics and stopping gender selection (following widespread reports about a week or so ago in the Bangkok Post that the practice was widespread and that Chinese and Indian intended parents in particular were coming to Thailand for that purpose).
I am thankful to Sam Everingham from Families Through Surrogacy who graciously has allowed me to repost the following article from his website which comprehensively states the current situation in Thailand (and is consistent with what I have heard):
Surrogacy in Thailand
THAILAND UPDATE (27 July 2014)
Thailand’s military government on 22 July 2014 announced a review of all 12 Thai IVF clinics involved in surrogacy cases. Government concerns have arisen due to the following:
- Commercial surrogacy is not generally acceptable in Thai society, so has to be conducted discretely. Industry growth has lead some operators to cross that line
- The Thai Medical Council does not condone gender selection, despite a number of clinics offering it (particularly in response to growing Chinese demand)
- There have been recent tragic cases of foreign parents not accepting disabled children born through surrogacy
- Some unregistered surrogacy operators have been exploiting vulnerable surrogates and intended parents
- There was concern that some Thai ART clinics are not certified by the Royal College of Obstetricians.
- Under Thai medical guidelines it is not legal for IVF clinics to supply both surrogates and egg donors. At least two have been doing that for some years
What Changes Have Occurred to Date?
- The Thai government has called a press conference on the issue and released media
- An audit of each clinic is currently underway
- AllIVF (Dr Pisit) which supplies IVF services to a large number of surrogacy agencies has been audited and has been asked to cease conducting medical procedures until they put on a certified obstetrician
- Most Thai-based surrogacy websites have been taken off-line by operators to review content to ensure it complies with Thai medical guidelines (ie avoid prosecution)
- Gender selection has ceased and is likely to be permanently banned
What Does This Mean for The Immediate Future?
IPs attending Births/ Exiting Thailand
- Discretion must be observed by IPs at birth hospitals, avoiding mention of surrogacy (this has always been advised, but more important now)
- Same sex couples in particular are advised to be discrete about their relationship status
- Extended visiting hours for IPs at some hospitals may not be available
- IPs who engaged direct with clinics such as AllIVF are advised to seek specific advice from their clinic prior to engaging with Thai authorities
IPs with Pregnant Surrogates
- Thai surrogacy agencies and agents remain open for day-to-day business, however medical procedures may not be permitted on site
- Existing contracts are likely be honoured
- Surrogates may not be able to have their routine checkups at the surrogacy clinic you engaged with. Instead clinics have arranged for these checkups to be done at local hospitals
- IPs should expect delays in receiving results of surrogate scans
IPs in contract but no pregnancy
- Existing client contracts are likely be honoured, assuming agencies attain the appropriate accreditation
- Procedures for engaging with donors, surrogates and IVF treatment may be altered
- Embryo transfer procedures may be delayed
Future Thai IPs
- Thai agencies are not taking on new clients until the new guidelines are resolved
- Agencies will not be able to provide both surrogates, donors and IVF services
- Future IPs must source surrogates/donors from an independent agency
- It is possible that paid egg donation will not be allowed amongst Thai woman in the future
- Future Thai surrogate contracts may need to be altruistic (this still to be confirmed)
What are next steps?
The Thai government is calling a meeting of ART clinics and doctors for 30th July. At this meeting acceptable standards will be set. Industry practice is likely to be tightened and improved.
PGD will only be available for medical reasons and not for gender selection.