Unwanted baby falls through legal chasm
Baby Gammy. Picture: Reuters

A WA couple has denied abandoning a boy born with Down syndrome to a surrogate in Thailand, claiming the doctor only told them they had a daughter.

Seven-month-old Gammy, who also has a congenital heart condition, was one of two children born via a surrogate in Thailand in December.

Pattaramon Chanbua, 21, told the ABC she was promised about $16,000 to give birth to the twins but claims the parents rejected Gammy and returned to Australia with his healthy sister.

But the father says the doctor only told them about the girl.

He told the ABC they had trouble with the surrogacy agency and had been told it no longer existed.

Ms Chanbua said doctors, the surrogacy agency and the parents knew he was disabled when she was four months pregnant, but did not inform her until the seventh month when she was asked to abort the foetus.

The Federal Government is considering intervening in the case of baby Gammy.

Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison told Sydney radio today 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 office later said in a statement that “the child may be eligible for Australian citizenship,” without elaborating.

Australian citizens are entitled to free health care in Australia.

Surrogacy advocates now fear a Thai crackdown on the industry will leave other parents unable to bring newborns to Australia.

Ms Chanbua also said a surrogacy agent cheated her of much of the money.

Ms Chanbua, a 21-year-old food vendor in Thailand's seaside town of Sri Racha, has had to take a break from her job to take care of her seven-month-old surrogate baby.

She has said she was not angry with the Australian couple.

The WA couple reportedly wanted Gammy aborted but the surrogate mother refused because of her beliefs.

Ms Chanbua said she met the Australian couple once when the babies were born and knew only that they lived in WA.

“I've never felt angry at them or hated them. I'm always willing to forgive them,” Ms Chanbua said.

“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.”

Ms Chanbua recalled strongly rejecting the idea of an abortion, believing that having the abortion would be sinful. “I asked them, 'Are you still humans?' I really wanted to know,” she said Sunday.

Ms Chanbua, who also has a six-year-old son and a three-year-old daughter, said she approached the surrogacy agency on Facebook early last year because she wanted money to pay off debts.

She said she plans to file a complaint with Thai police to get the rest of the unpaid compensation money from the agency.

The case has raised serious questions about the surrogacy industry and sparked a huge fundraising effort for Gammy. One website has raised almost $200,000.

Mr Morrison said the case was heartbreaking but it was unclear if the couple could be compelled to take care of Gammy or his medical costs.

He would look at what could be done but the issue could fall into the territory of moral responsibilities.

As well as Down syndrome, Gammy has a life-threatening heart condition.

Proposed Thai laws could ban carrying children for money and Surrogacy Australia president Sam Everingham said this had created fear among Australian couples that they might not be able to bring their children home legally.

An online fundraising campaign for the baby, has so far raised more than $210,000 in 12 days.

The organisers said the goal had been to reach $200,000 and they were overwhelmed by the support.

“This has been a heart-warming project for our team and we look forward to seeing what the final donations amount to,” they said.

“This is people power at its best.

“We do not view this as a short-term project, it is our vision by working together we can work to make Gammy's life meaningful and his challenges dealt with respect, love and care.”

The West Australian

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