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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

8/12/2014 (8 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Unregulated, international surrogate parenting raises ethical, moral dilemmas

International surrogate parenting, where wealthy couples in developed nations typically seek the services of poor females in developing nations to bear their children has recently had a most unflattering  spotlight thrown against it in a recent case in Australia. In this particular incident, a wealthy Australian couple paid a woman in Thailand to bear their child. Their intended child had Down's syndrome, and so the couple left with the child's healthy twin.

Pattaramon Chanbua, center, said the agency waited until the seventh month to ask her - at the couple's request - to abort the fetus. She refused to do because she believed it would be a sin.

Pattaramon Chanbua, center, said the agency waited until the seventh month to ask her - at the couple's request - to abort the fetus. She refused to do because she believed it would be a sin.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

8/12/2014 (8 months ago)

Published in Asia Pacific

Keywords: Surrogate parenting, Australia, abortion, Down syndrome


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The unsavory incident, experts say, is just the end result of an unregulated multibillion-dollar industry dependent on impoverished women living in the Third World.

Called the "Baby Gammy" case, the child's Australian parents are claiming that the Thai surrogate mother, Pattaramon Chanbua, refused to release the child into their custody. They in turn lacked the legal right to force her to do so.

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Pattaramon said she was not initially informed that the child had Down syndrome. The doctors, along with the agency brokering the surrogacy arrangement and the child's parents had known she was four months pregnant.

Pattaramon said the agency waited until the seventh month to ask her - at the couple's request - to abort the fetus. She refused to do because she believed it would be a sin. Instead, she asked the agent for 40 percent more money. She later said she was paid only half the agreed price.

Pattaramon has since raised more than $200,000 through an online fundraising campaign initiated by an Australian charity, after heavy media coverage.

Among the many other unwelcome details to have emerged was that the man, reported to be the father of Gammy is a convicted child sex offender.

Even before Gammy's case entered the international spotlight, the legal challenges of transnational surrogacy prompted the Hague Conference on Private International Law, an intergovernmental organization, to begin investigating commercial surrogacy in 2011. The organization issued a report earlier this year with its findings and a set of recommendations for policymakers.

Following the Baby Gammy controversy, yet another case emerged in Thailand, involving the discovery of nine surrogate babies who allegedly share one biological father, a 24-year old Japanese citizen.

Still another recent case involves an Australian couple convicted in a U.S. court in 2013 of making child pornography with a boy they adopted after paying a Russian woman $8,000 to be their surrogate in 2005.

Even in the best of circumstances, in which the would-be parents have clean records and the child goes to a loving home, the complexities of international surrogacy raise legal questions.

Among the many complex questions currently without answers: Should a sperm donor be considered the legal parent? How does the law regard a mother who gives birth to a child who is genetically unrelated to her? Can a contract require a surrogate mother to submit to an abortion if the intending couple wishes? Is the child a citizen of the country where he or she was born or where the intending parents reside?

All these considerations represent new frontiers in international law because existing laws simply don't cross over into this area well. As one expert put it, paying a woman to carry someone else's child "is not like renting out an apartment."

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