Thai surrogate mum refuses to part with baby
A THAI surrogate mother has declared she will "not give my baby to anybody" despite offers from scores of Australians, reports said yesterday.
The boy, Gammy, and a twin sister were born to Pattaramon Chanbua in December after she was reportedly paid A$16,000 (S$18,500) to be a surrogate.
An unnamed Australian couple took the sister, who was healthy, but left Gammy behind, according to media reports.
Ms Pattaramon told Fairfax Media on Saturday that she wanted to take care of the boy in Thailand, saying: "I'll take care of Gammy on my own. I'll not give my baby to anybody.
"I wish they will love my baby... I forgive them for everything. That is the best thing I can do, forgive... It is best for everybody," she said of the Australian couple.
Fairfax Media earlier reported that a surrogacy agent helped coordinate the agreement between Ms Pattaramon and the Australian couple, and doctors planted a fertilised egg from the couple in her womb.
They told her to abort the pregnancy after doctors learnt that one of the twins had Down syndrome. Ms Pattaramon told the newspaper she refused the abortion because of her Buddhist faith.
An Australian charity has raised about US$200,000 (S$250,000) to pay for the infant's medical care after a flood of international goodwill over the infant's plight.
The incident has also put a spotlight on the unclear regulations surrounding surrogacy and raised fears Australia could ban international surrogacy.
Australia's Immigration Minister, Scott Morrison, said yesterday a question of "moral responsibility" should determine the fate of Gammy.
"I think this is an absolutely heart-breaking story, it really is," Mr Morrison told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
"I think perhaps this may fall more into the territory of what people's moral responsibilities are here."
Ms Pattaramon's mother, 53-year-old Pichaya Nathonchai, said Gammy had been in a private hospital in Chonburi province, about an hour's drive from Bangkok, since Thursday and his condition was "improving".
"He is a quiet, calm boy... His mother and I are taking turns to see him at the hospital," Ms Pichaya said.
Ms Pattaramon, who runs a food stall in Chonburi, also has a six-year-old child and a three-year-old.
Gammy is likely to have life-saving heart surgery with the funds raised, The Bangkok Post reported.
It is estimated that 200 couples from Australia alone engage surrogacy services in Thailand each year, according to the Thai paper.
Commercial surrogacy, in which a woman is paid to carry a child, is not permitted in Australia, but couples are able to use an altruistic surrogate who receives no payment beyond medical and other reasonable expenses.