Commercial surrogacy

Recent discovery of Taiwanese "baby farm" with Vietnamese mothers in Thailand prompts legal changes.

surrogate mothers

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Police probe doctors tied to eugenics firm by Piyaporn Wongruang


Doctors involved in commercial surrogacy will face stiff penalties under draft legislation.

Last month, police raided a Taiwanese-owned company, Baby 101, allegedly offering commercial surrogacy services in Thararom housing estate on Ramkhamhaeng Road.

Police arrested four Taiwanese staff and one Chinese. They also rescued 13 Vietnamese women, seven of them pregnant with children allegedly destined for other people. The Taiwanese owner is on the run, though some reports suggest he has been caught in his home country.

Police say the Vietnamese were foreign workers hired without permission, and kept here against their will.

The women stayed at the estate while waiting to give birth. State agencies are still trying to establish the network of medical clinics and doctors working with the company

Baby 101's website, which is still working despite calls by human trafficking groups to take it down, says the surrogate mothers give birth to babies commissioned by other couples, either here, or in Cambodia

The website includes a form inviting clients to specify what they want in a surrogate mother, including weight, height, appearance, and education. Clients can also specify what they want from egg and sperm donors, including hair colour, eye colour, and education background. A gallery of ''oriental selected egg donors'' - young women who have signed up as donors - is presented for clients' selection. All of them are as pretty as cheerleaders.

The website also calls for applications from prospective surrogates - women interested in being impregnated and carrying a baby on a client's behalf - and men interested in donating sperm.

The website says a hospital belonging to a listed company works in cooperation with the firm. A hospital is pictured, but not named. Signs in the picture are in Thai script, but names are covered up.

Nor are address details given for Baby 101's offices.

The pregnant women identified as surrogate mothers have black strips over their eyes, to obscure their identity.

The website carries a notice informing prospective clients that none of the surrogate mothers are Thai.

''Babe101 not use Thailand surrogacy mother. The protection of the law is absolutely. Hundred percent peace of mind, you have no worries,'' it says.

Billing itself as a ''eugenics surrogacy service'', the company says surrogacy avoids the inconvenience of pregnancy. Women need not take time off from work, or fear loss of figure or ''fading intimacy'' from their husbands. They can also avoid the pangs of childbirth.

''We could create the finest procreation condition for your baby, mainly through the efficient embryo refining, only the superior left for implanting,'' it says

The authorities launched the raid after four Vietnamese women sought help from the Vietnamese embassy in Bangkok over the internet

The embassy contacted the Department of Special Investigation and immigration police for help.

Health agencies are also likely to take legal action against the medical premises and doctors involved.

However, the investigation has posed problems for police, as commercial surrogacy services as such are not yet illegal in Thailand. Moves are now under way to change the law and make it explicitly illegal.

''We were frustrated as we had no idea what specific charges we should file against them,'' said deputy immigration police chief ML Pansak Kasemsant, who jointly supervised the raid along with the DSI."

The investigation has shed light on the legal limitations and complications regarding surrogacy, a practice under which a sperm and an egg are bred outside the womb before being embedded in another woman's womb.

Prof Pramuan Virutamasen, a member of a panel developing a bill to regulate assisted reproductive technologies, said Thailand has performed surrogacy since 1991. But it was not until 1997 that the practice was regulated by the Medical Council of Thailand.

Under the regulation, doctors and outlets providing surrogacy services must obtain certification, and follow standards set by the Medical Council. No payments may be made that suggest the surrogate mother is earning an income for carrying the baby. The surrogate mother is also required to share a bloodline with either of the commissioning parties. The baby is deemed to belong to the birth mother, and the penalties for breaches are relatively slight. The council may penalise doctors for what is regarded as a breach of medical ethics. Commercial surrogacy as such is not addressed.

The bill drawn up by the panel, now pending House deliberation, says a child born by surrogacy will be the child of the commissioning couple. The bill also explicitly prohibits commercial surrogacy, brokerage, or advertising. Breaches can result in a jail term of one year to 10 years, and a fine of 20,000 to 200,000 baht.

(Source: Bangkok Post, Police probe doctors tied to eugenics firm, 6/03/2011, Piyaporn Wongruang, link

surrogacy -
an arrangement in which one woman is pregnant with gives birth to a bay for another woman (See Wikipedia)
commercial
surrogacy - surrogacy as a business, people paying for the service
surrogate mother - a woman who has a baby for another woman

eugenics - the study of methods of improving genetic qualities by selective breeding (especially as applied to human mating) (See Wikipedia)

probe - an investigation การสอบสวน, an attempt to find out the truth about an issue, problem or accident, made by an official group (or by the media); an investigation การตรวจสอบ การสอบสวน
firm - a business or company บริษัม
commercial - for business purposes
penalties - punishments for breaking the law บทลงโทษ
stiff penalties - punishments that are very difficult for the person being punished (paying large fine, spending a long time in jail, death, etc)
draft - written for consideration, but not yet in its final form ฉบับร่าง
legislation - a law or set of laws suggested by a government and made official by a parliament กฎหมาย, การออกกฎหมาย

raid -
when the police enter a place by surprise to catch people in an illegal act or to find evidence of a crime
allegedly - claimed but not yet proven ที่ถูกกล่าวหา
services - บริการต่างๆ things produced in service industries, not a physical good that can be bought, a waitress and a cook in a restaurant provide a service, technically: a sequence of activities that does not result in ownership of the outcome (See Wikipedia on services and the goods and services continuum)

staff - workers, employees พนักงาน
pregnant - having a baby developing inside the body ท้อง ตั้งครรภ์
home country - the country that you come from, that you were born in, that you are a citizen
permission - allowing someone to do something การอนุญาต,การอนุมัติ,การยินยอม
against their will - they did not want to do it, but someone forced them to do it

establish - to start a company or organization that will likely continue for a long time สถาปนา, ก่อตั้ง, จัดตั้ง
network - a large system of connected parts, organisations, people, etc. เครือข่าย
clinics - places where people go to receive medical treatment

human trafficking - a criminal activity in which people are recruited, harboured, transported, bought, or kidnapped to serve an exploitative purpose, such as sexual slavery, forced labor, or child soldiery (See Wikipedia)
take down website -
remove website from internet, so people can no longer read and view the content there
commissioned - paying people to do some work  

clients - (formal) customer ลูกค้า
sperm - the cell contribution of the man to making a baby
egg -
the cell contribution of the woman to making a baby
donors - person giving something to another person (here: sperm or egg)
background - personal history and experience
education background - a list of all the schools you gave gone to and degrees, diplomas and certificates obtained
sign up - to include your name on the list of people doing and activity
cheerleaders - women and men who lead cheers and get people watching sporting events excited and motivated (promote team spirit)

prospective - possible selections
impregnated -
to make a woman pregnant
carrying a baby - a woman having a baby inside of her during pregnancy
on a client's behalf -
done for the client or customer
listed company - a company that met high standards to be "listed on the stock exchange" and have its shares traded there
cooperation - working together to achieve a result that will benefit all sides ความร่วมมือ, การทำงานร่วมกัน

identified - named ระบุชื่อ
obscure - to prevent something from being seen or heard ปิดบัง
identity - who someone is
notice - information or warning หมายเตือ
absolutely - completely

inconvenience - an annoying problem or situation, especially one that forces you to make an extra effort to do something ความไม่สะดวกสบาย ความลำบาก
pregnancy - when a baby is growing inside a woman
figure - an amount, number or statistic

procreation -
producing babies
efficient - doing a task with no waste of time, money or energy
embryo - the form of humans and animals before they are born when they are still inside their mother การให้กำเนิด, การให้กำเนิด
implant - (here: implant)
authorities - government officials เจ้าหน้าที่ (ตำรวจ หรือผู้มีอำนาจ)
launched - started เริ่มต้นดำเนินการ
raid - to forcefully and suddenly enter a place to catch criminals or to search for something like drugs or, in this case, fake passports ใช้กำลังเข้าค้นสถานที่หรือ จับกุมคนร้าย
embassy - a group of officials who represent their government in a foreign country สถานทูต
premises - the buildings and land that a business or organisation uses ที่ดินและสิ่งปลูกสร้าง

Moves are now under way to Y - people are taking action to do Y or achieve goal Y
explicitly illegal -
make very clear that it is illegal (not subject to interpretation or questioning)
investigation - the process of trying to find out all the details or facts about something in order to discover who or what caused it or how it happened การตรวจสอบหาข้อเท็จจริง  การสอบสวน
illegal - against the law ผิดกฎหมาย, นอกกฎหมาย
frustrated - want something but cannot get it, feeling annoyed and impatient because you are prevented from achieving something ผิดหวัง,ท้อแท้ใจมาก, หงุดหงิดใจ
charges - bring a criminal case against a person
file - to take official action like making a complaint ยื่นคำร้อง
deputy - the person whose rank is immediately below that of the leader of an organisation รอง, ตัวแทน,ผู้รักษาการแทน
immigration - the process in which people enter a country in order to live there permanently การย้ายถิ่นฐาน
jointly - done together อย่างร่วมกัน, พร้อมกัน, ด้วยกัน
supervised - overseen; watched over to ensure that things are done correctly อยู่ในการควบคุมดูแล

shed light on - explain, help people understand better
complications - problems making the situation worse แทรกซ้อน, อาการแทรกซ้อน
practice - a way of doing something that people do regularly การปฏิบัติ

bred - grown
womb -
uterus, the place within a mother's body where her baby grows to full size before being born มดลูก
embed -
to fix something firmly in a surface or object (here: embed egg in womb)

panel - a group of experts brought together to discuss, investigate, and give advice on a subject
bill - a written document containing a proposal for a new law ญัตติ
regulate - to control an activity officially by using rules ควบคุม
assisted reproductive technology - medical methods and technologies for helping achieving pregnancy (See Wikipedia)
Medical Council of Thailand - the organization that oversees doctors and the profession of medicine in Thailand (See Wikipedia)

regulation - an official rule that controls the way that things are done, controls some  industry or activity กฎระเบียบ, ระเบียบข้อบังคับ
outlets - stores selling a product, retail outlets ร้านค้า

certification - an official process that provides proof that certain standards have been met after tests and inspection, an official document (certificate) i issued to prove that these standards have been met การรับรองคุณภาพ
standards - an acceptable level of quality or achievement มาตรฐาน
income - money that people receive from work or some other source, used for household consumption and savings
carrying the baby - being pregnant with the baby

share - to have or use something at the same time as someone else ใช้ร่วมกัน
bloodline - heredity, having the same descendants and ancestors (See Wikipedia)
share a bloodline - either the mother or the father must be an egg or sperm donor, thus contributing their genes (heredity, bloodline)
commission Y - pay money for someone to do Y
parties - people or companies entering into a business arrangement or deal
deemed - considered เห็นว่า ถือว่า
breach - a failure to follow a law or rule การละเมิดกฎหมาย, ละเมิดกฎหมาย
ethics - a set of principles people use to decide what is right and what is wrong จริยธรรม  จรรยาบรรณ

drawn up - write for the first time, draft
pending - waiting to be dealt with, settled or completed ยังค้างอยู่, ซึ่งยังไม่จบสิ้น, อยู่ในระหว่าง
deliberation - considering or discussing something การปรึกษาหารือ
couple - two people who are married or are involved in a romantic relationship คุ่รัก
brokerage - a business that sells things for other people or businesses (See Wikipedia)
jail term - a period of time that a criminal must live in jail as punishment for a crime
fine - an amount of money that you have to pay because you have broken the law ค่าปรับ

About the author

columnist
Writer: Jon Fernquest
Position: Online Writer