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Thailand's junta pledges 'leniency' in surrogacy cases

BANGKOK -- Thailand's junta has pledged leniency in the cases of babies born to surrogate mothers, as it looks to toughen rules in the lucrative but largely unregulated industry following a series of scandals.

Dozens, possibly hundreds, of foreign couples are thought to have been left in limbo after entering into surrogacy arrangements through clinics in the kingdom.

Army chief General Prayuth Chan-Ocha, who seized power in a coup three months ago, said in his weekly televised address late Friday that the military rulers would move quickly to find “sustainable solutions.”

“We are concerned that Thai women who are already surrogates will not dare to consult doctors at hospitals while they are pregnant because they are afraid that they would be prosecuted,” he said.

“The clinics that hired them or asked them to do it have been closed, so it is dangerous for the babies,” added Prayut, who was on Thursday picked as prime minister by the new junta-appointed legislature.

“I have already ordered leniency on a case-by-case basis.”

Commercial surrogacy is officially banned by Thailand's Medical Council, but until recently even top fertility clinics were believed to offer the service.

The junta has vowed to introduce a new law that could result in 10 years' imprisonment for anyone found guilty of involvement in the trade.

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