International surrogacy rules in Thailand – July 2014

8th March 2015 by

 

In July 2014 the military government of Thailand carried out a review of the country’s 12 fertility clinics which were, at the time, carrying out surrogacy. Government officials then met with doctors and representatives of the clinics to set “acceptable standards”.

Familylawweek.co.uk reported that a new set of rules were put in place regarding international surrogacy.

Thailand as a destination for UK parents

Many UK parents seek international surrogacy in the USA, but the high cost of procedures is prohibitive for some.

India is a low-cost alternative, but in 2012, changes to Indian family law made surrogacy available only to married heterosexual couples.

Prior to July 2014, Thailand had been a particularly popular destination for Australian parents seeking to enter into a surrogacy agreement and many UK prospective parents, especially same-sex partners, also turned to Thailand as an affordable destination in which to seek a surrogate child.

Mixed messages on international surrogacy

Internationally, the rules and approaches to surrogacy are vastly different. In the USA, certain state jurisdictions make surrogacy enforceable (California for example) and in others it is unlawful.

In the UK, legislation on surrogacy dates back to the 1980s and while the procedure is permitted, it is not enforceable. Plus, there are many rules and obstacles for parents and third party brokers which make the arrangement uncertain for UK parents and surrogates.

Prospective parents and Thailand

The July 2014 review of surrogacy in Thailand produced new rules. They appeared to suggest that surrogacy would only be permitted if:

  • the prospective parents are a married, heterosexual couple;
  • the prospective parents are medically infertile;
  • the surrogate is related to the intended parents;
  • the surrogacy is altruistic (ie no-one profits from the arrangement).

It was believed that a number of UK couples had entered into agreements with Thai surrogates and they were warned that unlawful removal of a child from Thailand could result in child trafficking offences.

Following the believed removal of records from at least one IVF clinic, a number of prospective parents were left unable to contact their surrogates and, not knowing the whereabouts of the surrogate mothers, the future of their unborn babies was left in great uncertainty.

Legal advice on international surrogacy

Healys’ family lawyers in London and Brighton recommend seeking expert legal advice on international surrogacy prior to undertaking any formal agreement.

English and Welsh legislation regarding parental responsibility is complex and the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 contains a number of regulations pertinent to surrogacy and the rights of the surrogate mother and her partner as the legally recognised parents.

There are a number of immigration considerations as well.

To find out how Healys’ family lawyers in London and Brighton can help you in an international surrogacy arrangement, please email your enquiry to family@healys.com.

We will then be able to discuss how we may best represent you throughout your surrogacy agreement.