March 7, 2024

Thailand to reopen international surrogacy market

Thailand is planning to reverse course and legalise surrogacy for foreigners, nine years after it banned it. “If the bill passes, it will be the first of its kind in the world,” said Arkhom Praditsuwan, deputy director-general of Health Service Support Department. “Foreigners are paying special attention to this issue. When this is liberalised, the health economy should be quite active.”  

The new law would attempt to deal with human trafficking. Smuggling of frozen embryos, sperm and eggs is an on-going problem. 

However, one of the reasons for relaxing controls on surrogacy is that Thailand, which had one of the world’s highest birthrates in the 1950s and 60s, is now desperate to boost the number of babies. The population is shrinking and the over-60s cohort is one-fifth of the population, a figure set to rise to one-third by 2030. 

Director-general Sura Wisedsak, director-general of the department, told the Bangkok Post that his department will also push for amendments to the act to, permit women’s biological relatives aged 20-40 to donate eggs, and to permit women older than 55 to arrange for surrogacy mothers. 

After some notorious scandals which made headlines around the world, Thailand made commercial surrogacy illegal in 2015. Currently it only permits surrogacy for Thai couples or for a Thai who has been married to a foreigner for at least three years and who faces difficulty in having children. A government commission oversees the process.