Thailand's military-picked legislature voted 160-2 on Thursday night to ban commercial surrogacy, and prevent foreigners and homosexual couples from seeking surrogacy services in the kingdom after a string of scandals last year, a lawmaker said Friday.
Under the new law, only married Thai couples are allowed to seek surrogacy and then only if they can prove that they and their relatives are infertile. A couple with one Thai spouse seeking surrogacy must be married at least three years. The measure is to prevent Thailand becoming "the womb of the world" National Legislative Assembly member Wanlop Tangkananurak told the Associated Press.
Thailand was previously a common choice for couples from Australia, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, as well as citizens of other countries seeking a lower-cost alternative to the procedure at home.
"Surrogacy business leaves too much long-term trouble for Thailand, so we are banning foreign couples from seeking surrogacy in our country to avoid being a hub and prevent what we saw last year," Wanlop said.
The new law follows two highly publicized incidents last year, one in which an Australian couple left behind a twin with Down's syndrome but took the other home with them, and a second in which a Japanese man was found to have fathered at least 16 babies via Thai surrogates.
Doctors who accept money for surrogacy procedures, or anyone else involved in commercial surrogacy, now faces a maximum of 10 years in jail and a fine of 200,000 baht ($6,100).
es/sms (AP, dpa)