This week, Thailand’s Department of Special Investigation (DSI) raiding three surrogacy clinics and arresting a man suspected of working as an agent for a multinational surrogacy ring.
According to DSI assistant spokesman Atsadawut Sripita and Pol Capt Tinnawut Seelapat, director of the Bureau of Foreign Affairs and Transnational Crime, DSI officers raided three places in Bangkok and one in Nong Khai, a region bordering Laos, yesterday.
This was part of an inquiry into a transnational surrogacy operation that is thought to be linked to a case in Bangkok last February when a one-year-old toddler named Thaenthai went missing from the GS Kik nursery. The DSI became engaged after local police discovered that the baby was most likely the victim of a gang operating in the Central and Northeast regions.
Surrogacy Clinics Paid Surrogates
The DSI raided a nursery in Nong Khai’s Phon Phisai district at the time and discovered two babies suspected to have been delivered to paid surrogate moms. Police also discovered a bank book indicating that an agent had hired roughly 20 surrogate mothers, with the ladies receiving 450,000-500,000 baht for each baby they “delivered” for the group.
Since then, police have broadened their probe. Following the issuance of a search warrant, DSI deputy director-general Pol Capt Piya Raksakul led his officers and officials from the Institute of Forensic Medicine and the Department of Health Service Support to raid three clinics in Bangkok on 23 August.
The first raid took place on Ngam Wong Wan Road in Chatuchak district, at a reproductive clinic. Mr. Atsadawut stated that the DSI identified a fertility specialist to work at the facility. He had given compensated surrogate mothers with fertility diagnosis and therapy.
From 2018 to 2020, the doctor accomplished this. Officers also discovered the medical documents of a group of women who had functioned as illegal surrogates, according to Mr Atsadawut.
The second raid took place at a fertility clinic on Phetchaburi Road in Bang Kapi. The same doctor worked there as a part-time physician providing fertility diagnoses.
The most recent raid took place at a fertility clinic on Pathumwan’s Phloenchit Road. According to investigators, the doctor’s transaction records linked him to the clinic’s operations. Furthermore, according to a DSI assistant spokesman, compensated surrogate moms were examined by this clinic before being flown abroad for intracytoplasmic sperm injections.
Police also discovered the surrogate mothers’ and their children’s passports. Mr Atsadawut stated that the facility does not have authority to use or provide medical reproductive technology.
On August 28, authorities from the DSI and Nong Khai Provincial authorities arrested Sunate Chomsri for his alleged involvement. During a search of his home, authorities discovered a list of surrogate mother names purchased and paid for by Mr Sunate, with the intended purchasers believed to be foreigners.
Surrogacy in Thailand
Thailand was a popular surrogacy destination until 2015 because to its low costs and sophisticated medical facilities. Many overseas couples and individuals visited Thailand in search of surrogacy arrangements. However, the Thai government became concerned about potential exploitation and unethical practises in the surrogacy industry, prompting a slew of legislative revisions.
Thailand passed legislation prohibiting commercial surrogacy for foreigners in 2015. International intended parents were no longer permitted to pay Thai surrogates for their services. The law was enacted in response to ethical concerns raised by surrogacy arrangements, including as incidents in which surrogates were reportedly exploited or left with legal and financial vulnerabilities.
Thailand’s surrogacy sector witnessed substantial changes following the ban on commercial surrogacy for foreigners. Many intended parents with ongoing plans experienced uncertainty, and the country’s reputation as a surrogacy destination suffered as a result.
It is crucial to note that surrogacy rules and regulations are subject to quick change, and the information presented here may not reflect the current situation of surrogacy in Thailand. If you are considering surrogacy in Thailand, I recommend checking with legal specialists and current sources to understand the country’s current legal and ethical context.