Abandoned Baby With Downs Syndrome Highlights Dark Side of Surrogacy in Thailand

Posted: Aug 01, 2014 4:57 PM

A surrogate mother in Bangkok is facing unexpected parenthood after she refused to abort a surrogate baby after he was prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome. Pattharamom Janbua was paid the equivalent of $10,000 to carry a set of twins for an Australian couple. Following the Down syndrome diagnosis of Gammy, the male twin, the couple refused to parent him and instead took only the healthy female twin. A fund has been set up to assist Pattharamom with the medical costs associated with raising a special needs child.

The Telegraph reports on this tragic story:

Pattharamon Janbua, 21, was left to care for her critically ill son after the Australian couple who could not have a baby paid her about £6,400 to be a surrogate mother.

The son, named Gammy, was separated from his twin sister, who is healthy and was taken by the Australians.

Mrs Pattharamon, who is married, said she became pregnant via IVF and four months later learnt that one of her children had Down's syndrome. Doctors told the Australian parents of the baby's condition, and they then said they wanted her to have an abortion.

Pattharamom, a Buddhist, said that abortion violated her religious convictions. She had never met the couple who paid her for her surrogacy, and was set up through an agency. Commercial surrogacy is illegal in Australia.

This situation is equal parts heartbreaking and infuriating. Pattharamom reportedly did not even fully understand how the process of IVF worked, but desperately needed money. The per capita gross national income of Thailand is 5,370 USD, and it's completely understandable how tempting an offer of 10,000 USD would be to an impoverished woman. Additionally, having a baby shouldn't be like picking out a car. Every child has a unique set of abilities and challenges. Although the Australian couple surely did not anticipate or desire a child with Down syndrome, it was quite cowardly and selfish of them to demand Pattharamom have an abortion. Using a woman for her womb should be an outrage, and commercial surrogacy needs to be better regulated to protect everyone involved.