Australia may intervene in surrogate baby case

CANBERRA, Australia — 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 spokesman 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 organization Hands Across the Water to help Gammy has raised around $200,000 since July 22.

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 Corp. “This child, in essence … should be an Australian citizen.”

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

More in Local News

Departing mayor’s locally drawn portrait joins city’s pantheon

Artist Elizabeth Person’s portrait of Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson will hang with others at City Hall.

Inslee proposes tapping reserves, carbon tax in budget plan

The proposal also includes money for the mental health system and efforts to fight opioid addiction.

One dead in crash south of Granite Falls

Two cars collided near the intersection of N. Lake Roesiger Road and Hidden Valley Road.

2 women struck, injured while crossing busy roads

The first happened Wednesday night in Everett. The second was Thursday morning in Edmonds.

Lynnwood robbery leads to lockdown at Edmonds schools

Edmonds police said it was just a precaution as they search around Edmonds-Woodway High School.

Marysville 7-Eleven hit by armed robbers

Officers set up a perimeter and brought in a police dog, but the man couldn’t be found.

Snohomish man, 63, missing from home since Monday

He left without his keys, wallet and phone, saying something about going to “the river.”

Counties fed up with unfunded mandates may sue the state

For example, no money has been provided to install, maintain and clear out required ballot boxes.

Pain lingers decade after recession

No matter how good things are now, it’s impossible to forget how the collapse affected people.

Most Read