Sick surrogate baby abandoned

It has been alleged that a Western Australian couple have deserted a baby boy, born to a paid surrogate in Thailand, because he was born with Down Syndrome and has a life-threatening heart condition. However, they have taken home his healthy twin sister.

Six month-old Gammy and his sister were born to Pattaramon Chanbua, who was paid about $16,000 to carry the children, but when the couple discovered during the pregnancy that the baby boy had health problems, they demanded that Ms Chanbua abort the baby. She refused as in Thailand it is considered a sin. The impoverished birth mother has now been left to look after the boy and cannot afford his life-saving surgery.

The alleged surrogate parents, believed to be in their 50s, told Ms Chanbua that they were too old to care for twins and opted to take the girl as she was healthy. The outrage has been so great that Thai authorities are now cracking down on paid-for surrogacy services, leaving an anxious wait for those Australian couples already in the process of having a baby by surrogacy. Currently, under Australian state law, people from NSW, ACT and Queensland are prohibited from entering into such agreements.

Executive director of Surrogacy Australia, Rachel Kunde, is shocked by the details of the case, “Someone’s left a baby behind and separated it from its twin and pretty much just disregarded that it was their child, which is something that is just unfathomable for people to think about,” she said. While she is concerned about a knee-jerk reaction to the case, she is hopeful that it may lead to better regulation of the surrogacy practice.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has indicated that there may be some government help available for the family of the abandoned baby. “Let’s look at things and see what might be possible,” he said. “It’s a very, very sad story and I hate to think that a child could be abandoned like that.”

Around $200,000 has already been raised through donations to pay for the care and medical treatment Gammy requires.


Opinion: Stop being so selfish

The tale of Gammy is sad on so many levels and highlights the lengths to which some people will go in order to have a child of their own.

Little is known about the Western Australian couple who have allegedly abandoned their child and, if the story is indeed true, it’s hardly surprising that they would wish to remain anonymous. It is believed that they are both in their 50s and, if this is the case, beyond the age of having a child of their own, for the woman anyway. Yet these two individuals have been so driven by their need to procreate that they have seemingly failed to consider the risks associated with pregnancy. And now, aged over 50 they appear to have decided that two babies, one of them incredibly ill, would be too much.

In today’s consumer-driven environment, a woman’s womb and children have become nothing more than commodities, available to those willing and able to pay the high price. But the cost is often more than monetary. This couple may have opted to bring two children into the world, one who will have health difficulties for the rest of his life and one who will forever wonder what happened to the twin with whom she shared a womb. All because the biological parents saw something and decided they wanted it, but not enough to deal with the potential problems.

I’m sure there are hundreds, if not thousands, of childless couples whose hearts are breaking at the news of this poor baby, callously abandoned because he simply didn’t fit the unrealistic ideal lifestyle of this couple. There are probably many who would open their hearts and homes to little Gammy, promising to love and care for him for the rest of his life. And while this is commendable, perhaps they, and anyone else considering surrogacy, should consider the children in this country who need a home and someone to care for them. While adoption in Australia is notoriously difficult, there are children of all ages who need loving homes, who need people willing to be their parents, whether it’s for a month, a year or a lifetime.

Is it time surrogacy was banned for all Australian states? Should there be tighter laws to ensure that those who go through the process are responsible for all the resulting children born to their chosen surrogate mother? Should there be an upper age limit for those who intend to bring surrogacy children back into Australia?