In the September 17, 2014 article by Tammy Mills, the saga of baby Gammy continues when news surfaces of the attempt to offload the baby to another couple.
Allegations have surfaced of a frenzied scramble to offload baby Gammy when he was born, including offering him to a Victorian couple and suggesting he should be abandoned on the steps of a temple.
The alarming developments in the case of the baby boy born to a surrogate mother in Thailand eight months ago were revealed on ABC’s 7.30 on Wednesday night.
It detailed the “scramble” to get rid of the unwanted baby, who has a healthy twin sister, with country Victorian couple Kim and Brendan Cross, who have come forward to say they were offered Gammy when they struggled to conceive.
The Crosses were living in Bangkok and had been clients of Thailand Surrogacy for two years when Ms Cross said she was sent an email from one of its agents.
“We did see it as a genuine offer to have the baby,” Ms Cross told the ABC.
“(We were) mortified, could not believe that someone would go through a process like this and give birth to a beautiful baby boy, regardless of if he had Down syndrome or not – he is their flesh and blood.”
Gammy’s Thai surrogate mother Pattharamon Janbua told Fairfax Media on Wednesday night that less than a month after the baby was born, her surrogacy agent told her that if Ms Pattharamon felt she could not care for him she would try to find another couple to take him.
“I am not sure if the plan was to give or sell the boy,” Ms Pattaramon said.
“I was shocked. I told the agent I will take care of my baby.”
The Crosses refused to accept baby Gammy – “we can’t accept someone else’s child” – and a former employee of Thailand Surrogacy said Gammy’s biological Australian father David Farnell asked for the baby to be aborted and when that was refused, he suggested an extraordinary alternative.
“He said ‘there is a normal one, can I take the normal one?” the former employee told the ABC.
“Can you leave the abnormal one at the temple? Can you leave him in Bangkok? Nobody will know about this, something like that.”
The claims were supported in an email from Thailand Surrogacy chief executive Antonio Frattaroli, the ABC reports.
Mr Frattaroli denied any knowledge of Gammy being offered to another couple, but told the ABC Mr Farnell did ask for an abortion.
Mr Farnell denied asking for the child to be left at a temple and has previously denied he asked for the baby to be aborted.
Ms Pattharamon said she had not heard that Mr Farnell has asked if it was possible for the baby to be left outside a temple.
Joy Kamonthip, the main agent handling the Gammy surrogacy, on Wednesday night denied she ever had a conversation with Mr Farnell about offering Gammy to another couple or leaving the baby on the steps of a Thai temple.
“I never had a conversation with the Farnells until they arrived in Bangkok and since I met them they never once said things like that,” Ms Kamonthip told Fairfax Media.
“I’m very surprised the ABC is still trying to dig into the story … I met the ABC twice and gave them information I have … it didn’t work,” she said.
Ms Kamonthip acknowledged she worked with Mr Frattaroli in the agency that handled the Gammy surrogacy.
She said the media does not care about Ms Pattharamon or the Farnells.
“Can you imagine how this story could ruin their lives? But of course you guys are doing your job…I guess,” she said.
“It’s really a waste of time what you are searching for.”
Supreme Court Rules Surrogacy Contracts May Be Enforced If In Compliance With State Laws
The Tennessee Supreme Court has upheld a portion of a contract in which a Tennessee woman agreed to act as a surrogate mother for an Italian couple who were unable to have children on their own.
The Italian couple, referred to as the “intended parents,” contacted the surrogate through a surrogacy agency. In July 2010, the surrogate, her husband, and the intended parents signed a contract for a “traditional surrogacy.” In the contract, the surrogate and her husband agreed to give the child to the intended parents after birth.
By way of artificial insemination by the intended father, the surrogate became pregnant in April 2011. Over the course of the pregnancy, the intended parents paid medical expenses, legal fees, and other costs totaling approximately $70,000. Two months prior to the birth of the child, the parties filed a joint petition asking the juvenile court to declare the paternity of the child, grant custody to the intended parents, and terminate the parental rights of the surrogate.
The juvenile court granted the petition. On January 7, 2012, the surrogate gave birth to a girl. Following the advice of medical personnel, the parties agreed that the surrogate should breastfeed the child for a short period of time. When the child was almost one week old, the surrogate changed her mind about giving the baby to the intended parents and asked the juvenile court to award her custody. The juvenile court denied her request and gave custody to the intended parents. The Court of Appeals affirmed the ruling.
On further appeal, the Supreme Court observed that the General Assembly has recognized the concept of traditional surrogacy by statute and that state law does not prohibit traditional surrogacy contracts. The Court found, however, that another statute prohibits the termination of the parental rights of the surrogate mother prior to birth. Because the juvenile court did not have a lawful basis for terminating the surrogate mother’s parental rights before the birth of the child, the Court remanded the dispute to the juvenile court to determine the issues of visitation and child support, but upheld the award of custody to the father. The child has now been in the custody of the father for over two years.
Justice William C. Koch, Jr., wrote a separate concurring opinion in which he asserted that the Court should not address the question of whether surrogacy contracts violate state public policy.
To read the In re Baby et al. opinion, authored by Chief Justice Gary R. Wade, and the separate concurring opinion by Justice Koch, visit the Opinions section of TNCourts.gov.
A pregnant surrogate mother who backed out of her agreement becomes the target of threats and intimidation by not only the surrogacy clinic, but also the police working for the clinic.
Paveena Hongsakula, right, in a press conference with a threatened surrogate mother and her husband at the Paveena foundation in Pathum Thani on Tuesday. (Photo by Thiti Wannamontha)
The 35-year-old woman, identified only as Orn, and her 50-year-old husband sought protection from the Paveena Foundation for Children and Women after being pursued around the country following her decision to back out of her surrogacy contract.
Orn said she was offered 350,000 baht for her service by the unnamed clinic – run by a foreigner named Victor and a Chinese man – who told her the transaction was legal, but nonetheless asked her to keep it secret. They also suggested she stay with them, but she refused, saying she had to care for her son.
Under the contract, Orn would be paid 15,000 baht a month and 230,000 baht upon delivery.
Insemination took place in April, but after a pair of much-publicized media reports about questionable surrogacy practices sparked a government crackdown in August, she told the agency she wanted to scrap the deal and raise the child herself.
It was then, after the contract supposedly having paid her at least 60,000 baht, her troubles began.
Orn’s husband, identified only as Kaeo, said a foreign broker and a Thai woman repeatedly tried showed at their apartment looking for her. To keep her safe, Kaeo said he sent his wife to stay with relatives in another province, but the pair tracked her down, threatening her to carry out her end of the deal.
Another agency representative even showed up a her most-recent checkup at a local hospital, Kaeo said, forcing Orn to flee out the back door, wade through a muddy field and hide for nearly two hours before catching a bus to another province.
Finally, Kaeo said, three men claiming to be police officers showed up at his apartment Saturday, menacingly threatening him to bring his wife to the agency.
It was then the couple sought help from the Paveena Foundation, run by former health minister Paveena Hongsakula.
Mrs Paveena told them the three men were indeed police officers, so she planned to bring the couple to meet with deputy police chief Aek Angsananont Wednesday and seek legal action against the agency and the three officers.
This aberrational case is tragic on so many levels, including giving fodder to opponents who would like to make all forms of surrogacy illegal:
he man, who cannot be identified, has been charged with indecent dealings of a sexual nature with the children while they were under 10. Court documents reveal he has also been charged with possessing child abuse material which was found after a raid on his home. The man involved denies the allegations, which will come before court later this year.
The Thai surrogate mother, Siriwan Nitichad, also known as Aon, lives in the Petchabun province 400 kilometres north of Bangkok. Encouraged by a relative and with her husband’s agreement, Aon agreed to act as a surrogate for a couple from Australia who could not conceive on their own. “They contacted us to be a surrogate,” she said. “They asked whether we wanted to meet them first or if they should meet us first, so that they could see how I look like and we could see how they looked like, to see if it was fine for us.”
Once the decision was made Aon met the couple, who had travelled to Thailand. “They said they were just married and they really wanted to have a baby so much,” she said. “She said her husband wanted to have a baby so much, please help them, please help them. “She held my hand and said please help them.”
Aon agreed to use her own eggs. “I thought she really could not [use her own eggs] because I saw she was quite old already,” she said. “They must be really having problems and really could not find anyone else.”
Aon says she was paid a total of 170,000 Thai baht for her services – about $5,500. She says there was mention of extra money because she had provided the eggs, while the sperm was supplied by the Australian man, but the extra payment never eventuated. “After the birth the babies were not so strong so I was worried,” she said. “They were checked on many things, they had lung problems. “When it was time to give them up, I actually did not want to because I was worried. “They were about four to five months old. “They were so lovely, I wanted them to stay with me, I did not want to let them go. “If they asked if they could cancel their payment and we kept the babies, I would definitely have said yes.”
The Australian couple took the twins back to their home in Australia – and it was then things took a turn for the worse. Court documents reveal the father became unemployed, allegedly had a violent temper, and the marriage broke down. The children were having night tremors and had begun to wet the bed.
Last year the authorities charged the father with indecent dealings with the children. Aon and her husband, Kosin Suthivarakorn, were told of the allegations in June 2013. “I felt terrible, I felt very bad, I don’t know how to describe it,” Aon said. “I knew only, when they came to talk to us they wanted to have a baby, will love them, will take the best care for them – I felt bad.”
The children are now in the care of the ex-wife of the accused man, and Australian child welfare authorities are now working on longer-term plans for their care. Ilya Smirnoff runs Childline Thailand, a child welfare organisation which runs safe houses for children and has been asked to help with the case. “We have been contacted by the international social service representative from Australia to make an assessment for the possible placement of the children back to Thailand,” Mr Smirnoff said.
That would reunite the children with their surrogate and biological mother, but there are complications. “They don’t even speak any word of Thai, they don’t know that they are half Thai or have any connection to Thailand,” Mr Smirnoff said. “They consider themselves to be fully Australian.”
The case is likely to increase the scrutiny on Thailand’s long unregulated surrogacy laws.
After the case of Baby Gammy, the baby boy with Down syndrome left behind by his Australian parents, the ruling Thai military has been working to introduce new laws banning commercial surrogacy.
In what is thought to be a first decision of its kind, a court in Switzerland has recognized a same sex couple as the legal parents of a child born to an American surrogate.
Surrogacy is illegal in Switzerland, however the ruling placed the welfare of the child as the court’s paramount concern.
The fathers sought that a Californian birth certificate which recorded them as the child’s parents should be recognized.
Whilst the judgment is welcomed as a victory for LGBT rights, the Swiss justice department can still appeal the ruling to Switzerland’s supreme court
If we cannot entrust a police officer with a Twitter account, how do we justify arming them military weapons? It is no wonder the people in Furgeson have issues with law enforcement:
A St. Louis-area police officer who’s been working in Ferguson falsely accused a group of protestors of shooting at police, said Missouri highway patrol captain Ron Johnson holds a racial “double standard,” and asserted that he would like to punch attorney general Eric Holder, the St. Louis Riverfront Times reports via a survey of the officer’s Twitter posts.
The Riverfront Times appears to have noticed Sgt. Mike Weston’s account when Weston said that a group of individuals tear-gassed in their own backyard last week had fired gunshots at police. A Times reporter who witnessed and recorded the incident says none of the protestors were armed. Weston admitted he could not support the accusation when contacted by the reporter—and wasn’t even at the scene he was describing:
“There were shots being fired some yards, maybe not this particular one.”
Weston then admitted that he wasn’t in the group of police officers that was marching down the street and firing tear gas into yards. He said he was in the back closer to the command center, several blocks away.
The Times also found since-deleted tweets by Weston in which he says he’s considering seeking out Eric Holder to punch him, accuses Ron Johnson of practicing a racial “double standard” in Ferguson, and characterizes Johnson’s approach to protests as “Hug a Thug.” Weston confirmed to the Times that the Twitter account in question was his.
I am not sure why this nugget of information has not received more attention:
As Officer Wilson got out of his car, the men were running away. The officer fired his weapon but did not hit anyone, according to law enforcement officials.
Given existing legal precedent, an officer cannot use deadly force to stop a fleeing felon who is not perceived to be dangerous (Tennessee v. Garner, 471 U.S. 1 (1985)). Under Garner, in order to use deadly force against a fleeing felon, a police officer must have probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant risk of harm to the officer or the community. In light of this revelation, it would seem that Officer Wilson had no legal justification for firing upon the unarmed and fleeing Michael Brown. While none of these shots apparently were responsible for Mr. Brown’s death, the shooting itself would appear to be illegal.
I wonder how many more babies Mitsuoki Shigeta has around the world:
Preliminary DNA test results confirm a match between a Japanese man and at least 12 babies he was suspected to have fathered with Thai surrogate mothers, Thai police said on Wednesday. A lawyer for the 24 year old, who has not been charged, submitted samples of his DNA, or genetic fingerprint, to police. The man fled Thailand this month and the lawyer has refused to reveal his whereabouts.
“Preliminary results of the DNA test show a match,” Assistant National Police Chief Korkiat Wongworachart told reporters, adding that police had summoned the man for questioning. “I expect him to show up because it involves his children.”
Thai police this month discovered nine surrogate babies with their nannies and a pregnant surrogate mother in a Bangkok apartment, dubbed the “baby factory” by the media. Later, they said they had found more babies, all suspected of having been fathered by the same man, a Japanese national who often travelled in and out of Thailand.
Thailand has been gripped by a spate of surrogacy scandals in recent weeks, following accusations that an Australian couple had abandoned their Down Syndrome baby with his Thai birth mother, taking only his twin sister back home. Thailand and India are popular choices for foreign couples looking for a legally simple route to parenthood. But India last year banned commercial surrogacy for unmarried couples, gay couples and individuals, giving Thailand a competitive edge in the business.
The rent-a-womb industry is largely unregulated in the Southeast Asian nation and in the wake of the recent scandals Thailand’s military government has given preliminary approval for a draft law to make commercial surrogacy a crime.
We have been documenting over the past few weeks what has been transpiring in Thailand. From an Intended Parent seeking to have 1,000 children to Intended Parents abandoning their baby who was diagnosed with Down Syndrome. Thailand’s military response to these outrageous incidents has been unconscionably excessive as instead of focusing on the bad actors, they instead are punishing the innocent victims. Hundreds of parents and their children are currently trapped in Thailand, unable to return home with their families in reaction (or retaliation) for the recent revelations regarding their surrogacy industry.
But this is a story we have seen before. Reproductive tourism facilities as well as IVF clinics and agencies have capitalized on non-existent laws or lax enforcement of existing restrictions to create an illusion of safety in order to induce thousands of unsuspecting infertility patients to proceed with surrogacy and egg donation in their country du jour. Ukraine, Panama, India and now Thailand were once popular cross-border destinations that have left a long list of victims in its wake.
Well if history is any predictor, Mexico may very well be the next country to pull the plug on its burgeoning surrogacy industry. We have already chronicled the collapse of Planet Hospital a few months ago which had turned to Mexico as its primary base of operations. Sordid stories of irregularities and allegations of misconduct in the Mexican surrogacy industry are beginning to become more commonplace.
So it would not be a surprise at all if Mexico follows in Thailand and India’s footsteps. Consequently, before considering the allure of Mexico and doing surrogacy on the cheap, be sure you are fully informed of the risks. Because at the end of the day, you may very well find yourself in a situation where you are not only without child, but your life savings as well.
Not my thesis but the argument of two prominent bioethicists in addressing the issue of organ donation: Is it morally wrong to kill people? Not really, argue two eminent American bioethicists in an early online article in the Journal of Medical Ethics. Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, of Duke University, and Franklin G. Miller, of the National Institutes […]
Blogging about the legal, social and political issues of the day with an emphasis on reproductive rights and bioethics.