THE NATIONAL Legislative Assembly yesterday passed the first reading of a bill that seeks to outlaw commercial surrogacy.
First reading passed with 177 to 2 votes. Six NLA members abstained.
The interim chamber set up a special committee of 18 members to vet the bill in 30 days.
The bill was approved by the National Council for Peace and Order in late August after it was reported that an Australian couple had left a Down syndrome baby with his Thai surrogate mother.
The bill seeks to regulate assisted reproductive technologies (ART) by setting up a committee to protect babies born through such methods. The committee would also be in charge of regulating and monitoring ART services and ethics.
The bill also seeks to punish women who agree to become surrogate mothers for money. Each would be liable to a maximum 10-year imprisonment and a maximum fine of Bt200,000.
A surrogate mother would also be required to sign a contract with the biological parents that the baby will become the child of the parents legally.
Social Development and Human Security Minister Pol General Adul Saengsingkaew told the NLA that the bill sought to specify the legal status of the biological parents and to prevent abuse of ART technologies.
During the debate before the passage of first reading, NLA member Pirom Kamolratanakul said the reference to artificial insemination in Article 2 should be removed from the bill because artificial insemination could be carried out without having a surrogate mother.
NLA member Wallop Tangkhananurak said he disagreed with the penalties specified in the bill because clinics and doctors would receive less severe punishments than surrogate mothers in cases of commercial surrogacy.
Adul replied that the bill sought to punish all sides involved in commercial surrogacy and it was aimed at protecting surrogate babies and suppressing human trafficking.