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Global Health and Travel November - December 2014
Potential impact of surrogacy law still
Experts are still unsure about how a potential
commercial surrogacy ban in Thailand could affect the
overall international demand. According to a report
from BioEdge, a Sydney-based bioethics news website,
commercial surrogacy is currently legal in the some US
states, as well as eastern European countries like Russia,
Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia and Armenia. "However,
the number of countries with ideal conditions for
commercial surrogacy -- enabling legislation, high-
quality medical care, and desperately poor women is
shrinking fast," the report said.
Curiously, fees for commercial surrogacy
arrangements whether legal or not can vary wildly
from country to country US$38-120,000 in the United
States; US$25-60,000 in Armenia; US$25-80,000 in
Russia and the Ukraine; US$28-35,000 in India; and
US$40-45,000 in Mexico, according to MTQUA figures.
Despite the negative attention surrounding
commercial surrogacy, international demand for other
fertility procedures like IVF and pre-implantation
genetic diagnosis (PGD) screening, where couples can
find out any predisposition for genetic disorders as well
as the sex of the foetus, has remained strong, Chan says.
His company, Arthai Institute, estimates that in the last
three to four years, Chinese patients going to Thailand
to undertake fertility treatments rose from about 500
cases a year to 4,000 cases by 2013. The number could
reach 10,000 in another three years, he says, according
to industry estimates.
At top international hospitals in Bangkok, one IVF
cycle, including pre-treatment, medication, extraction,
implantation, and hospital fees, runs about 400-500,000 baht
(US$12,251-15,323), about equivalent to private hospitals in Hong Kong,
Chan says. The difference is that Thailand hospitals typically include
PGD screening in a typical IVF package, while Hong Kong hospitals do
not. In Hong Kong, a screening using the latest PDG technology, called
array CGH, can cost about US$6,000 alone, he says.
Since the government's efforts to ban commercial surrogacy
restarted in August, industry experts have also weighed in as
to whether the move was too rash, given the loss of business
opportunity. Others worry that the process will be driven
underground, where commercial surrogate mothers would have
even less legal protections.
"I think that we have seen in terms of commercial surrogacy, it
is really a reflection of a societal change in the norm for growing
a family, Munro says. "I think it's a mistake for Thailand to be
adopting this particular law, because we see that there is a growing
need for surrogacy options, and that need is not going to go away."
Although Arthai Institute does not handle clients who request
commercial surrogacy services, Chan says that he believes that if
commercial surrogacy were legalised and better regulated in Thailand,
it would be a benefit to the country's medical tourism industry.
"As a commercial opportunity, I do welcome a well-regulated
and well managed industry that can draw people to Thailand," he
says. "I do believe Thailand can offer a sometimes superior [result]
compared to other countries."
Stephano of MTA cautions couples who are exploring
international commercial surrogacy arrangements to exhaustively
research local laws and providers before inking a deal.
"A patient seeking treatment should do their due diligence that
means researching the accredited qualifications and evidence-based
outcomes for providers," she says. "The same holds true for both
surrogate and child-seeking couple. Both should be fully informed of
the procedures they are about to get involved in, the potential health
issues and legal ramifications that might arise, and the channels they
can seek for assistance when they do."
69 Thailand Report.indd 72
23/10/2014 5:24 PM