If the Thai government cracks down on surrogacy, will Australian parents be forced to abandon their babies?
That’s the question many nervous parents and observers are asking as the story of baby Gammy continues.
Last night ABC’s 7.30 Report dug deeper into the international storm surrounding Baby Gammy – and commercial surrogacy laws, both in Australia and overseas.
Seven-month-old Gammy – who has Down syndrome and a hole in his heart – was left behind in Thailand by his Australian parents, even though they decided to take his twin sister back to Western Australia with them.
Gammy’s story has captured the world’s attention, but the situation has also thrown an international spotlight onto the laws surrounding commercial surrogacy.
ABC Bangkok correspondent Samantha Hawley spoke to a former surrogacy agency worker, about the confusion that surrounded Gammy’s birth.
“It was just, just nobody don’t know what to do. And then, like, let’s say if they decide to abort one baby, then what about the other one?” she explained.
“We just couldn’t find a solution. We just don’t know if this happened and what we are going to do; if this happened, what we are going to do. Until the surrogate came up with the solution [of keeping Gammy]. We just, like, I was very impressed with her solution.”
After Thai surrogacy laws changed this week, there are also concerns about women who may already be pregnant as surrogates in Thailand – and what might happen to the babies.
The Daily Mail reported,”The babies of desperate Australians who are using surrogate mothers in Thailand could end up being put into orphanages after Thai surrogacy laws changed this week, a lawyer has warned. Australians using surrogates in Thailand could also be prosecuted for human trafficking under the new laws that ban surrogacy if the prospective parents aren’t blood relatives.”
Lawyer Stephen Page told the Daily Mail, “I’ve been contacted by parents who can’t contact the surrogate parents midway through pregnancy. They can’t find out whether their baby or the mother is OK.”
“It’s a disaster how the Thai government have announced it.”
Page also condemned Australian surrogacy laws in Australia, saying the only reason people went overseas was because the laws in Australia are so restrictive. Most Australian states only permit unpaid surrogacy agreements – and in NSW, Queensland and the ACT is it actually illegal to pay an overseas surrogate.
“The laws here makes it almost impossible. You can’t advertise, you can’t get an egg donor. Some people have waited seven years,” Mr Page said.
Page called on the Australian government to take steps to ensure that hopeful parents who already have a woman carrying their child overseas, will be able to bring their child back to Australia. “’What I would hate to see is these babies stuck in a Thai orphanage or people prosecuted for child trafficking offences for something that has been legal for years,” he said.