MCT looks at easing surrogacy rules

The Medical Council of Thailand (MCT) will consider easing certain regulations on surrogacy practices to ensure proper health care in the aftermath of a recent scandal.

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In talks called for Aug 14, the council will consider extending medical facilities to surrogate mothers who are not relatives of the child's parents on a case-by-case basis, MCT president Somsak Lohleka said.

The measures are part of a bill on the protection of children born using assisted reproductive technology.

In Thailand, no specific laws regulate surrogacy services. MCT regulations govern commercial surrogacy, which can proceed only if the egg or sperm come from a blood relative.

The move comes after six-month-old Gammy was born with Down's syndrome to a Thai surrogate mother, Pattharamon Janbua, 21. The Australian couple who paid for the in vitro fertilisation procedure allegedly rejected their baby boy and took only Gammy's healthy twin sister.

The case prompted the Department of Health Service Support (HSS) to inspect a clinic in Bangkok on Tuesday, where Ms Pattharamon said she received the surrogacy service.

HSS director-general Boonruang Triruangworawat said the clinic has a licence in line with the 1998 Sanatorium Act, and its doctors are licensed by the Royal Thai College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists to perform surrogacy service.

But the clinic violated MCT regulations by offering assisted reproductive services to surrogate mothers who are not relatives of the parents and to women who were hired to carry babies, he said. About 20 doctors were found to have provided services at the clinic, he said.

The clinic operator could face one year in jail plus a fine of up to 20,000 baht, Dr Boonruang said.

Any doctors who performed the service without a licence could be jailed for three years and fined up to 60,000 baht.

Meanwhile, the Australian authorities are investigating Gammy's father, who was exposed as a convicted paedophile, to determine whether his young daughter is at risk. The 56-year-old electrician was reportedly convicted for sexually molesting three girls.

As of yesterday, authorities in Western Australia said the parents' whereabouts were unknown.

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