Non-commercial Surrogacy in Thailand: Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications in Local and Global Contexts

Abstract

In this paper, the ethical, legal, and social implications of Thailand’s surrogacy regulations from both domestic and global perspectives are explored. Surrogacy tourism in Thailand has expanded since India strengthened its visa regulations in 2012. In 2015, in the wake of a major scandal surrounding the abandonment of a surrogate child by its foreign intended parents, a law prohibiting the practice of surrogacy for commercial purposes was enacted. Consequently, a complete ban on surrogacy tourism was imposed. However, some Thai physicians and surrogate mothers cross into neighboring countries to provide foreign clients with the commercial surrogacy services that are forbidden in Thailand. Under this legislation, the needs of Thai couples who are unable to conceive are accommodated by legally accessible, non-commercial surrogacy services; however, there is currently no provision in place aimed at protecting the rights and interests of surrogate mothers and children. It is widely believed that the abolition of surrogacy tourism, an industry that give rise to several major scandals, and legal access to surrogacy by Thai couples were the Thai government’s primary goal in implementing this legislation.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Notes

  1. 1.

    (Appendix) Fieldwork was performed in Bangkok, Thailand, in September 2010, December 2010, May 2011, January 2012, January 2013, October 2013, February–March 2014, August–September 2016, and January 2018. Fieldwork in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, was performed in November 2015 and January 2018. Most basic demographic data (age, marital status, family structure, income, and educational background) were obtained from semi-structured interviews with the surrogates (Hibino and Shimazono 2013).

References

  1. Adams, Melanie. 2010. New draft law to regulate surrogacy in Thailand. Thailand Law Forum. http://www.thailawforum.com/new-draft-surrogacy-law-thailand.html. Accessed 15 Mar 2020.

  2. BBC News. 2017 Thai police arrest man smuggling semen into Laos. BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-39663671. Accessed 15 Mar 2020.

  3. Cambodia Expats Online. 2018. Police raid house of surrogate mothers for Chinese gang; 40 arrested in Cambodia. Cambodia Expats Online. https://cambodiaexpatsonline.com/newsworthy/police-raid-house-surrogate-mothers-chinese-gang-arrested-t20903.html. Accessed 15 Mar 2020.

  4. Chaudhuri, Mohuya. 2013. New Indian visa rules exclude single people and gay couples from child surrogacy. BMJ 346: f475. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f475.

  5. Fiske, Gavriel. 2014. 65 surrogate babies born to Israeli gay couples stuck in Thailand. Times of Israel. https://www.timesofisrael.com/65-surrogate-babies-born-to-israeli-gay-couples-stuck-in-thailand/. Accessed 15 Mar 2020.

  6. Gerin, Roseanne. 2017. Laos: Govt, shuts down clinic suspected of providing illegal surrogacy services; exploitation of women feared. Business & Human Rights Resource Centre. https://www.business-humanrights.org/en/laos-concerned-with-exploitation-of-women-govt-shuts-down-clinic-suspected-of-providing-illegal-surrogacy-services-joint-efforts-with-thai-and-cambodia-officials-pursued-to-tackle. Accessed 15 Mar 2020.

  7. Hibino, Yuri, and Yosuke Shimazono. 2013. Becoming a surrogate online: “message board” surrogacy in Thailand. Asian Bioethics Review 5 (1): 56–72.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Hongladarom, Soraj. 2018. Surrogacy Law in Thailand. Pre-print. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/322286708. Accessed 15 Mar 2020.

  9. ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) 2005. National Guidelines for Accreditation, Supervision & Regulation of ART Clinics in India. https://www.icmr.nic.in/sites/default/files/art/ART_Pdf.pdf. Accessed 15 Mar 2020.

  10. International Human Rights Clinic. 2019. Human rights implications of global surrogacy. https://chicagounbound.uchicago.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1009&context=ihrc. Accessed 22 Apr 2020.

  11. Kijewski, Leonie. 2019. UN reiterates call to abolish criminalization of surrogates. VOA News. https://www.voacambodia.com/a/UN-reiterates-call-to-abolish-criminalization-of-surrogates/5164651.html. Accessed 22 Apr 2020.

  12. Kowitwanji, Weena. 2011. Thai organization involved in trafficking in Vietnamese surrogate mothers uncovered. AsiaNews.it. http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Thai-organisation-involved-in-trafficking-in-Vietnamese-surrogate-mothers-uncovered-20916.html. Accessed 15 Mar 2020.

  13. Medical Council of Thailand. 1997. On service standards for assisted reproduction technologies, No. 1/2540. Royal Gazettes 114 (123D). http://www.thailawforum.com/medical-surrogacy-regulations/. Accessed 15 Mar 2020.

  14. Medical Council of Thailand. 2002. On service standards for assisted reproductive technologies, No. 21/2544. Royal Gazettes 119 (68). http://www.thailawforum.com/medical-surrogacy-regulations/. Accessed 15 Mar 2020.

  15. Meta, Kong. 2017. Cambodian surrogate law due in 2018. Phnom Penh Post. https://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/cambodian-surrogacy-law-due-2018. Accessed 15 Mar 2020.

  16. News Corp Australia Network. 2016. Australian nurse, 49, arrested in surrogacy crackdown in Cambodia. News Corp Australia Network. https://www.news.com.au/national/victoria/australian-nurse-49-arrested-in-surrogacy-crackdown-in-cambodia/news-story/f2d1c018793b3dfe7fd928018b0ebed2. Accessed 15 Mar 2020.

  17. Nilsson, Elina. 2015. Merit making, money and motherhood: Women’s experiences of commercial surrogacy in Thailand. MA Thesis, Uppsala University.

  18. Rudrappa, Sharmila. 2017. India outlawed commercial surrogacy—Clinics are finding loopholes. The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/india-outlawed-commercial-surrogacy-clinics-are-finding-loopholes-81784. Accessed 15 Mar 2020.

  19. Schover, R. Leslie. 2014. Cross-border surrogacy: The case of Baby Gammy highlights the need for global agreement on protections for all parties. Fertility and Sterility 102 (5): 1258–1259. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fertnstert.2014.08.017.

  20. Stasi, Alessandro. 2017. Protection of children born though assisted reproductive technologies Act, B.E. 2558: The changing profile of surrogacy in Thailand. Clinical Medicine Insights: Reproductive Health 11: 1-7. https://doi.org/10.1177/1179558117749603.

  21. Techagaisiyavanit, Wanaporn. 2016. Reproductive justice dilemma under the new Thai law: Children Born out of Assisted Reproductive Technology Protection Act BE 2558. Law J Fac Law 45: 201–214.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Thai SMC News. 2010. 360°surrogacy issue. [Document in Thai]. https://www.slideshare.net/nstdathailand/20100604-lawpregnant. Accessed 15 Mar 2020.

  23. Whittaker, Andrea. 2011. Reproduction opportunist in the new global sex trade: PGD and non-medical sex selection. Reproductive Biomedicine Online 23 (5): 609–617. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rbmo.2011.06.017.

  24. Whittaker, Andrea. 2015. Thai in vitro: Gender, culture and assisted reproductive technologies in Thailand. London: Berghahn.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Whittaker, Andrea. 2016. From ‘Mung Ming’ to ‘Baby Gammy’: A local history of assisted reproduction in Thailand. Reproductive Biomedicine Online 2: 71–78. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rbms.2016.05.005.

  26. Whittaker, Andrea, and Amy Speier. 2010. “Cycling overseas”: Care, commodification, and stratifying in cross-border reproductive travel. Medical Anthropology 29 (4): 363–383. https://doi.org/10.1080/01459740.2010.501313.

  27. Zimmerman, Allison L. 2015. Thailand’s ban on commercial surrogacy: Why Thailand should regulate, not attempt to eradicate. Brooklyn Journal of International Law 41 (2): 917–959.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

The author would like to thank all the informants contacted.

Funding

The study was funded by Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (C) (18k11896), Grant-in-Aid for Challenging Exploratory Research (15k12719), and Funding Program for Next Generation World-Leading Researchers (LZ006).

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Yuri Hibino.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The author declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Additional information

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Hibino, Y. Non-commercial Surrogacy in Thailand: Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications in Local and Global Contexts. ABR 12, 135–147 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s41649-020-00126-2

Download citation

Keywords

  • Surrogacy
  • Thailand
  • Global
  • Local
  • ELSI