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Australia questions 'moral responsibility' over abandoned Down Syndrome baby

SYDNEY, Australia -- Australia's Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said Sunday a question of “moral responsibility” should determine the fate of a baby born with Down Syndrome, reportedly abandoned by an Australian couple with its surrogate mother in Thailand.

Morrison's comments came as funds raised online by an Australian charity to pay for the infant's medical care rose above AU$190,000 after a flood of international good will over the infant's plight.

The boy, Gammy, and a twin sister were born to Thai woman Pattaramon Chanbua in December after she was reportedly paid AU$16,000 to be a surrogate.

An unnamed Australian couple took the sister, who was healthy, but left Gammy behind, according to media reports.

The baby boy also suffers from a life-threatening heart condition, and 21-year-old Pattaramon had earlier said she could not afford to pay for the medical treatment he needs.

“I think this is an absolutely heart-breaking story, it really is,” Morrison told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

“I think perhaps this may fall more into the territory of what people's moral responsibilities are here.

“I note there was a comment earlier that the mother of this child, baby Gammy, wants the child to remain in Thailand and that mother's wishes also have to be absolutely respected.”

Pattaramon's mother, 53-year-old Pichaya Nathonchai, told AFP Sunday Gammy had been in a private hospital in Chonburi province, about an hour from Bangkok, since Thursday and his condition was “improving.”

“He is a quiet, calm boy ... his mother and I are taking turns to see him at the hospital,” Pichaya said, adding her family was relieved donations were coming in.

“Although we have benefited from the 30 baht (US$1) health scheme, it does not cover everything he needs,” she said, referring to Thailand's universal health care scheme.

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