stops U.S. and Australian couples leaving with surrogate babies:
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[August 15, 2014]
By Byron Kaye
SYDNEY (Reuters) - U.S. and Australian
couples attempting to leave Thailand with babies born by surrogate
mothers have been stopped at the airport and prevented from leaving the
country in recent days, an Australian surrogacy advocate said on Friday.
The crackdown follows the case of an Australian couple - one of
whom is a convicted child sex offender - who left a male twin
surrogate baby with Down Syndrome in Thailand, bringing only his
sister back to Australia.
The incident, made public earlier this month, unleashed an
international outcry over a shadowy business that rights groups say
preys on poor and vulnerable women in countries such as India and
In response, Thailand's new military government gave preliminary
approval on Wednesday for a draft law to make commercial surrogacy a
In an apparent swift enactment of the draft law, two U.S. couples
were stopped by immigration officials at Bangkok Airport on the same
day while two Australian same-sex couples were intercepted on
Thursday, Surrogacy Australia said.
The couples were ordered to seek parental orders from Thailand's
juvenile court to formally give them custody of the babies and have
engaged Thai lawyers, Surrogacy Australia global director Sam
Everingham told Reuters in a telephone interview.
A spokesperson for Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and
Trade confirmed the Australian government was "assisting Australians
with children born by surrogacy in Thailand who have been prevented
from departing the country in recent days".
"While regulation of surrogacy in Thailand is a matter for Thailand,
we continue to encourage Thai authorities to adopt appropriate
transitional arrangements for any new measures they may introduce,
so concerned Australians are not unduly affected," the spokesperson
A spokesman for Thailand's Foreign Ministry said he was not aware of
any policy preventing foreign couples from leaving Thailand with
their babies, as long as their paperwork was in order. Immigration
at Bangkok’s international Suvarnabhumi Airport declined to comment.
A crackdown would leave in limbo an estimated 250 foreign couples,
about 150 of them Australian, who have traveled to Thailand to have
babies with surrogate mothers, Everingham said.
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Commercial surrogacy is illegal in Australia. It is legal in some
U.S. states but many U.S. couples still travel to Thailand for the
procedure because it is cheaper there.
Everingham said he was meeting with senior Australian government
officials later Friday to discuss consular support for Australian
couples in Thailand with a surrogate baby.
"We need to respect the fact that they legislated over night on this
and work around it," he said.
The draft law is awaiting final approval from the National
Legislative Assembly and would then have to be formally endorsed by
Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej. It is unclear how long final
approval will take.
David and Wendy Farnell, the Australian couple at the center of the
story of "Baby Gammy", now 7 months old, and the surrogate mother
told conflicting stories of how the infant came to be left behind.
In a separate case, Thai authorities said a Japanese businessman who
is suspected of having fathered 13 babies using Thai surrogate
mothers has fled the country.
(Additional reporting by Amy Lefevre in Bangkok Editing by Jane
Wardell and Jeremy Laurence)
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