Monday, January 20, 2014

65 babies born through surrogacy stuck in Thailand

Beginning of the end for surrogacy in Thailand?

We saw this happen in India, clinics giving surrogacy treatment to citizens of countries that refused to give citizenship to babies born through surrogacy (Israel initially being one of them).  Now some agencies are taking on clients from Italy and France, two countries which are notorious for not giving citizenship for babies born through surrogacy.

So what is different in Thailand compared to India? In Thailand the baby gets Thai citizenship, and a Thai passport. In India baby is born stateless and does not get Indian citizenship or passport. In Thailand baby may be able to exit Thailand as a Thai citizen on a Thai passport with a visa for the client's home country. But what happens when the visa runs out? How long can a Thai citizen stay in the new home country? Does the father need to go to court? I would assume so, and it is at that stage where surrogacy would be revealed.

Some agencies are advising clients from countries that have never given citizenship to babies born through surrogacy that they can take baby home on a Thai passport with no mention of surrogacy, ie make it look like baby was conceived out of a "holiday romance/sex romp" and the mother doesn't want baby.

 Italy is a country notorious for not giving citizenship to babies born through surrogacy. While the above deception may work for the first few cases, no-one knows what will happen once the parent and baby are home. By then the clinic and agency are long gone and the parent and baby are on their own. And how long will it be before Italian immigration starts cottoning on to an increased rise in applications for visas for Thai citizen babies born to an Italian dad who happened to get a Thai woman pregnant while on a three day trip to Bangkok.

At least the Israelis have successfully taken babies home to Israel and one can assume they assumed it would be the same in Thailand. Clearly it is not, so starts another round of inter-country battles over citizenship rights to babies born through surrogacy.

 I wonder how long it will be before Thai Government gets jack of inter-country disputes involving its own citizens (the babies) and being slammed in the media about exploitation of its women, which will surely follow, and shut surrogacy down perhaps for all foreigners.  This is feeling a bit like deja vu to me.

65 surrogate babies born to Israeli gay couples stuck in Thailand
Government says Thai law grants citizenship to babies born to local mothers; advocacy group planning string of protests

Read more: 65 surrogate babies born to Israeli gay couples stuck in Thailand | The Times of Israel
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Several dozen surrogate babies born, or about to be born, in Thailand — through the arrangements of Israeli couples — are unable to come to Israel because the Interior Ministry has not granted Israeli citizenship to the infants, according to an advocacy group formed around the issue

According to the group, the affected parents have followed all the legal and bureaucratic procedures required of them from the Thai authorities. “Many couples, from all over the world, perform a similar procedure in Thailand, and return to their home country with no problem,” the group said. It also noted that some of the Israeli parents have had to extend their visa in Thailand while dealing with the issue and that some of the newborns were without proper health care and insurance.

Some 20 babies have been born to Israeli couples through surrogacy in Thailand in recent weeks, and some 40 are due to be born shortly, according to Channel 2. On Sunday, the channel reported that the Interior Ministry has refused to grant citizenship to the babies due to a conflict with Thai law, which automatically grants citizenship to the babies according to the birth mother.

According to a statement from the ministry issued to Channel 2, the issue is being jointly addressed with Thai authorities by the interior, justice and foreign ministries.

“According to Thai law, the babies are Thai citizens,” the statement said. “The position of the authorities in Thailand, which was given to Israel in an official notice, is that mothers in Thailand who give birth to babies have full parental rights over those children, including custody.”

The Foreign Ministry issued a notice and a travel warning to that effect at the end of December 2013, the statement said.

However, MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz), himself a member of the gay community, who plans to raise the issue in the Knesset, said Sunday that there is “no reason” for the Israeli surrogate babies to be denied entry into Israel, when “citizens from many other countries complete the processes of surrogacy in Thailand without any problem.”

The surrogacy procedure is extremely expensive and, according to Horowitz, many families have been put in “dire” financial straits by the situation and the delay.

Thailand permits surrogacy but has no explicit laws on the matter. However, in December, the Thai authorities began to formulate an official policy on surrogacy by foreigners, which led to the Foreign Ministry warning, according to a Haaretz report from last week.

Israel does not permit homosexual couples to initiate the surrogacy procedure in the country, forcing many who wish to have children to seek a solution abroad.

According to the website New Life in Thailand — one of the many companies that provide Thai surrogacy services for foreigners — both the Thai birth mother and the foreign father (sperm donor) are registered as the parents, and then a legal procedure is conducted whereby the mother gives up her rights to the child. The father must then acquire citizenship for the baby, which, in the case of Israel, requires a genetic test to prove paternity.

In December, Health Ministry Yael German announced that she intends to implement a 2010 panel recommendation to open up the surrogacy procedure to Israeli homosexual couples.

Israel suffers from a shortage of surrogate mothers. According to a 2013 report on the news site Walla, from 2007 to 2012, 313 Israelis found surrogate mothers abroad, compared to only 228 in Israel. The imbalance has become even worse in recent years; in 2012, 126 went through the process abroad, while only 41 did so in Israel.

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