Australia may intervene in Thai surrogate baby case

Canberra - Australia's government is considering intervening in the case of a sick Down syndrome baby left with a Thai surrogate mother by Australian biological parents.

Pattaramon Chanbua, a 21-year-old food vendor in Thailand's seaside town of Sri Racha, is taking care of her 7-month-old surrogate baby, named Gammy, who also has a congenital heart condition. The parents, who have not been identified in the media, took Gammy's healthy twin sister back to their home in Western Australia State.

Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison told Sydney Radio 2GB on Monday that Pattaramon "is an absolute hero" and "a saint", adding that the law surrounding the case "is very, very murky".

"We are taking a close look at what can be done here, but I wouldn't want to raise any false hopes or expectations," Morrison said. "We are dealing with something that has happened in another country's jurisdiction."

Morrison's spokesperson Julian Leembruggen later declined to say what type of intervention the government was considering.

In Sri Racha on Sunday, Pattaramon said that she was not angry with the biological parents for leaving Gammy behind, and that she hoped they would take care of the boy's twin sister they took with them.

"I've never felt angry at them or hated them. I'm always willing to forgive them," Pattaramon told The Associated Press. "I want to see that they love the baby girl as much as my family loves Gammy. I want her to be well taken care of."

Pattaramon was promised 300 000 baht ($9 300) by a surrogacy agency in Bangkok, Thailand's capital, to be a surrogate for the Australian couple, but she has not been fully paid since the children were born last December.

She said the agency knew about Gammy's condition four to five months after she became pregnant but did not tell her. It wasn't until the seventh month of her pregnancy when the doctors and the agency told her that one of the twin babies had Down syndrome and suggested that she have an abortion just for him.

Pattaramon recalled strongly rejecting the idea, believing that having the abortion would be sinful. "I asked them, 'Are you still humans?' I really wanted to know," she said.

An online campaign by the Australian charity organisation Hands Across the Water to help Gammy has raised around $200 000 since 22 July.

Mora Kelly, founder of the Children First Foundation, which brings sick children from developing countries to Australia for medical treatment, said she had discussed with Hands Across the Water bringing Gammy to the Australian city of Melbourne for heart surgery.

"I believe that this child should be able to access our health care system here in Australia," Kelly told Australian Broadcasting Corporation. "This child, in essence ... should be an Australian citizen."

Hands Across the Water founder Peter Baines was not immediately available for comment on Monday.

ABC also reported that Gammy's biological father denied intentionally abandoning his son in Thailand, and that he had not known that his new daughter had a twin.

It is illegal to pay a surrogate mother in Australia and in some states, excluding Western Australia, it is also illegal to pay a surrogate living overseas. An Australian woman can act as a surrogate for free, but also has a right to keep the child rather than hand it over to the biological parents.

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Nin Ja Kitty 2014/08/04 11:33:12 AM
I cannot believe that these parents, who paid a fair whack for the surrogacy would leave one of the twin behind, because he is a Down Syndrome baby. I am sickened to the gut at this. I hope that the Aussie government do step in. Little Gammy is very sick and the Australian Nation have put their hands deep in their pockets to assist.
Hetty Oliver 2014/08/04 11:34:42 AM
What a beautiful boy. I hope it all works out for the best, but as for the Biological parents, you should be ashamed of yourselves!!
SunshinyDay 2014/08/04 11:38:24 AM
Those two "parents" are disgusting, how can you just leave a baby? I hope that they are forced to pay maintenance for that poor child.
Jacqui Daane Van Rensburg 2014/08/04 12:09:43 PM
Bring him to Australia where he can be treated and make sure he and his surrogate mother is well supported for the rest of their lives. Bless those Australians that want to adopt him and bless them for donating the money needed for his operation.
Pat Riot 2014/08/04 01:51:39 PM
Sick bloody sheep shagging convict descendants have no bloody morals or common decency !
Jamill Ahmed 2014/08/04 02:22:55 PM
They should name and shame this wannabe parents put their images up for the world to see this cruel heartless creatures
Cafe-Ambivalence 2014/08/04 04:20:06 PM
Did anybody here stop to consider what the father said. He might be lying but we don't know all the facts. The AGENCY seem more suspicious and I think there might be reason to believe that the parents really didn't know there was a twin.