The Department of Health Service Support (DHSS) is drafting an amendment to the "Protection of a Child Born by Medically Assisted Reproductive Technology Act, B.E. 2558 (2015)" to increase the penalties against those who facilitate illegal surrogacy in the country, including brokers and hired women.
"We are amending this act," DHSS chief Sura Wisetsak said on Thursday, adding the draft is being made after the department became highly concerned about an increasing number of illegal surrogates in the country.
The department is currently working with the Royal Thai Police's investigation team to determine whether wrongdoers are exploiting loopholes with foreign criminal syndicates, he said.
The draft aims to increase the financial penalty and jail term for anyone found guilty of being a broker or a hired surrogate, he said. However, he would not go into the details, saying the drafting process is still ongoing.
Illegal surrogacy is a problem in Thailand. During the pandemic, many surrogates could not deliver their babies abroad due to border closures, resulting in some children being born and abandoned in Thailand.
The Department of Special Investigation found that last year, at least 19 children were born in the kingdom via illegal surrogacy. They are now under the care of the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security.
Akom Praditsuwan, deputy DHSS chief, said there are 108 nursing care units providing assisted reproductive technology in state and private hospitals.
The success rate is relatively high at 46%, with 20,000 cases of in-vitro fertilisation and 12,000 artificial breedings, he said.