Thailand's baby farm

Surrogacy is big business in one district of Phetchabun where villagers are desperately poor

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This house of a 26-year-old woman in Phetchabun's Ban Huai Chan Moo 14 accommodates 10 members. It badly needs refurbishing and the woman had planned on becoming a surrogate mother to pay for it – until the latest controversy broke. PATTARAPONG CHATPATTARASILL

Here are excerpts from a story in today's Bangkok Post which looks into an essential part of the Thailand's controversial commercial surrogacy business.

You can read our previous coverage here:

http://www.bangkokpost.com/learning/learning-from-news/427904/surrogacy-update-baby-wait

http://www.bangkokpost.com/learning/learning-from-news/427202/japanese-mystery-father-who-is-he

http://www.bangkokpost.com/learning/learning-from-news/425502/surrogate-update-thurs-warnings-issued-a-year-ago

Struggling Phetchabun is Thailand's baby farm

Surrogacy is big business in one part of the country where villagers are desperately poor

Patsara Jikkham

Lom Sak district in Phetchabun has long been known for its sweet tamarind. But a new development that has brought unexpected notoriety to the area is leaving a bitter taste in everyone's mouths.

Lom Sak is now better known as the "home of surrogacy" — a district where young women have found a way to profit from their ability to bear children.

There's little to distinguish Pak Chong from other crossroads villages in Phetchabun — except the pregnant women in this surrogate capital of Thailand.

A total of 25 women from four of the 17 villages that make up tambon Pak Chong have been paid to become surrogate mothers, said a Pak Chong Tambon Administration Organisation official.

"The last surrogate mother has just gone to Bangkok," Phetchabun governor Wichian Chantharanothai said earlier on Friday when the woman left home in the morning.

Twelve local women have conceived this year and they have been taken to the capital to see out their pregnancies and give birth. All of the others had their babies last year, Mr Wichian said.

"My niece is preparing to do it. She has already had her medical," said a 56-year-old woman in Ban Huai Chan Moo 14, who refused to be identified.

"But while waiting for the next step, the news [about illegal surrogacy] emerged. She's stopped everything, even though a price was agreed, because she doesn't know whether she'll be arrested by police."

The 26-year-old woman was contracted to be a surrogate mother for 350,000 baht, her relative said. She needs to earn money for 10 family members who are crammed into a dilapidated hut.

The family does not want to get rich from surrogacy, the woman's aunt said. They only want enough money to pay their debts and repair what they called "home" and to make merit by helping others.

Not everyone in tambon Pak Chong shares the feeling. "It is about business," Ban Pak-ok Moo 9 head Nom Mueangming says.

Mr Nom said commercial surrogacy flourishes because the law is unclear and many people are struggling with poverty.

"If we don't want this problem then the government must solve the root causes, and do it in a sustainable manner," Mr Nom said, urging authorities to think more seriously about career development and land reform for the poor.

Lum, a 70-year-old resident of Ban Namkham Nuea Moo 5, said money had tempted some rural people to become surrogates. They make little from farming, he said. "But calling us a 'surrogacy village' is unfair and hurts our feelings. Not all villagers do it," Mr Lum said.

You can read the full story here: http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/politics/428382/struggling-phetchabun-is-thailand-baby-farm

Related search: Phetchabun, Pakchong, Lom Sak, surrogacy, surrogate mothers

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Writer: Bangkok Post
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