SOME Thai 35 couples used surrogates to get children - including three Thai women married to spouses from Britain, Russia and France - after a new law was passed in Thailand a year ago to curb abuses in such procedures.
Head of the Public Health Ministry's Health Service Support Department Boonreung Traireung-worawat said his agency had teamed up with the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security to set up a system to check on children born via surrogates living in or outside Thailand until they turn 18.
This was to prevent them from falling victims to human trafficking and the illegal trade in organs.
Boonreung and the deputy chief of the Department of Children and Youth, Supatcha Suttipol, signed a formal deal last Thursday to cooperate and protect such children. The ceremony, witnessed by Public Health Minister Dr Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn, was held in Bangkok during the third Symposium on Consumer Protection in the National Health Service System.
As part of the system to protect such children, to keep them safe and ensure they are raised amid family warmth, officials would consider if parents to-be are suited for raising such children, Boonreung said. Officials would also follow up on surrogate mothers for any impacts, including mental strain, he said.
Besides conducting systematic follow-ups, Boonreung said a working team of officials from both agencies would also analyse information on ways to improve regulations to ensure utmost benefit for the children.
Boonreung said after the law - the Technologically Assisted Reproductive Medicine Surrogate Children Protection Act 2015 - took effect on July 30 last year, 35 Thai couples with some difficulty in having a child naturally underwent procedures and surrogacy. Three of the Thai women were married to men from the UK, France and Russia.
Currently, there were four couples awaiting the go-ahead to use surrogates from the Technologically Assisted Reproductive Medicine Surrogate Children Protection Committee, he said.
Many inquiries by foreigners
Meanwhile, as many as 200 foreign couples made inquiries with the department every month about the procedure and related regulations.
He said foreign couples with difficulty having a child naturally could utilise other technologically assisted reproductive methods, such as In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF), gamete intra-fallopian transfer (GIFT) and artificial insemination. But if they wished to have surrogate bear them a child, they must use a female relative as surrogate mother and abide by the new law.
Bureau of Sanatorium and Arts of Healing director Arkhom Praditsuwan said Thailand currently had a low birth rate, with most couples having only one child. A report from Chulalongkorn Hospital's College of Public Health Sciences and the Health Department said some 11 per cent of Thai couples nationwide were having difficulty in having a child naturally, as of 2009.
Arkhom said if any Thai couples wanted to have a surrogate pregnancy, but had no blood relative to carry the child, the law allowed them to use other women. Surrogate mothers must be 20-40 years old, of the same nationality as one spouse, and already have her own children (up to three children via natural birth or one child via caesarean section).
He said if the parents of a surrogate child died before the child was born, the law allowed the surrogate mother to be a temporary guardian of that child until an appropriate guardian was identified.
Image via Flickr/Patrik M, Loeff
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