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Sex-selection reports trigger investigation of fertility clinics

AFTER news that Chinese people have been coming to Thailand for in vitro fertilisation (IVF) procedures that allow specific selection of a baby's sex, police are checking up on 12 "targeted" private clinics nationwide that reportedly provide illegal fertility services.

Pol Lt-Colonel Chatmongkol Wasin-amorn, deputy superintendent of the Consumer Protection Police Division, said police would arrest those involved on human-trafficking charges if the fertility technology has been developed and promoted in a way that could be prosecuted under that framework. Online advertisements that carry faulty messages such as claiming that clinics in Thailand are legally entitled to carry out IVF procedure that allows sex selection will result in the punishment of both the website owner and the information provider.

Chatmongkol made his statement at a press conference on Tuesday that was jointly organised by the Public Health Ministry and the Medical Council of Thailand.

Strict controls

Department of Health Service Support chief Dr Boonreung Trireungwarawat affirmed that Thai law strictly controlled IVF and gestational surrogacy as well as prohibiting the selling of eggs and the sex selection of embryos.

Illegal clinics and practitioners face jail terms of up to three years and fines of Bt60,000, he warned.

"Currently, there are 45 fertility clinics that are approved by the department and the Royal Thai College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

"Seven or eight more clinics are applying for licences," he said.

He added that 300 gynaecologist clinics would be invited to a meeting about the legal requirements surrounding IVF, where they would be urged to be vigilant against law violators.

Medical Council of Thailand president |Dr Somsak Lohlekha said the council prohibited the sex selection of babies and payment to egg/sperm donors or surrogate mothers.

Surrogacy could only proceed if the egg and sperm came from a spouse or a blood relative.

Doctors found to have breached the council's regulations in this matter would be deemed guilty of seriously contravening medical ethics, which is punishable by revocation of a medical licence.

Somsak also said the council would make a proposal to the Food and Drug Administration to enact stricter control of sperm imports.


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