Thailand has passed a law that criminalizes paying for surrogacy in the country, and bans foreigners and same-sex couples from seeking surrogacy services, according to media reports. Thailand's "rent-a-womb" industry, which had made the Asian country a hotspot for the so-called "fertility tourism," had come under a spotlight last year after a baby born of a Thai surrogate mother was allegedly abandoned by his Australian parents.
The law, which was given a preliminary approval in August last year, was passed by the country's parliament on Thursday. Wanlop Tankananurak, a Thai lawmaker, told BBC that the new law is aimed at preventing Thailand from becoming "the womb of the world.”
Under its provisions, the use of agents for obtaining the services of a surrogate and hiring a commercial surrogate will be punishable with a maximum sentence of 10 years. The law also states that Thai surrogates should not be below the age of 25, Tankananurak told Reuters.
"The important part is if the couple seeking surrogacy services is Thai or the couple is mixed-race, they can find a Thai woman to be their surrogate providing she is over 25," he reportedly said.
However, even such couples are not allowed to pay for the services provided by the surrogate. Moreover, the surrogate mothers are also required to be relatives of either the husband or wife, according to media reports.