The story of baby Gammy and his “surrogate” mother has captured the world’s attention, highlighting just how complex and fraught commercial surrogacy arrangements can be. It also shows Australia is right to prohibit commercial surrogacy – and why other countries should do the same.
Gammy was born with Down syndrome and a congenital heart condition. He is a twin, conceived as a result of a commercial surrogacy arrangement between an unidentified Australian couple (the “genetic parents”) and Pattaramon Chanbua, a Thai national whose family was struggling to pay off debts. Ms Chanbua was paid 350,000 baht (A$11,700) to carry and bear a child.
According to Ms Chanbua, when it was discovered she was carrying twins, she was offered an additional 70,000 Baht (A$2,000). But when doctors further discovered one of the babies had Down syndrome, she was told to abort the affected twin. She refused on religious grounds and, after the twins’ birth, the Australian couple left with only the healthy girl.
The Australian father has since claimed the couple did not know about the other child. But Ms Chanbua states the father came to the hospital to see the twins. It’s unclear what role the surrogacy agency played.
However it played out, baby Gammy was left with Ms Chanbua, who loves and cares for him, but struggles to pay his medical expenses. The story has attracted international outrage, and a public campaign to raise money for baby Gammy’s care.
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