In a saga that started in 2014, one of the richest men in Japan has just been granted custody of children he commissioned from Thai gestational mothers. In its ruling, the central juvenile court “found the father had no history of bad behaviour and would provide for the children’s happiness.”
This case first came to light in the regulatory upheaval following the case of Baby Gammy in Thailand, and resulted in the country’s eventual ban on international commercial surrogacy. It continues to raise questions as, according to Sam Everingham, a director of the Australia-based consultancy Families Through Surrogacy, an example of “an unacceptable abuse of the limited pool of gestational surrogates globally” and, more broadly, the ethics of a practice that does not protect the rights of the women and children involved.
Japan has witnessed the birth of its first baby using anonymous donor eggs. As the country prepares for others, important questions about legal parentage and the status of birth mothers are also being raised.
According to this article, a 2007 ruling by the Japanese Supreme Court currently grants legal status to the woman who gives birth. While there is no precedent or specification in the civil code for when a child is born as a result of donated eggs, a draft bill granting legal status to the birth mother in third-party reproduction could be in the pipeline.
The International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics provides a forum within bioethics for feminist thought and debate. It is sponsored by the International Network on Feminist Approaches to Bioethics, and includes feminist scholarship on ethical issues related to health, health care, and the biomedical sciences.
Contributors to vol. 7, no. 2, titled Transnational Reproductive Travel, explore questions and ethics related to international commercial surrogacy, in countries such as Canada, Thailand, Japan, and Denmark. The issue also includes a commentary on the Hague Convention and a review of “Breeders: A Subclass of Women,” by Jennifer Lahl from Stop Surrogacy Now.
This article follows up on a case in Thailand involving a same-sex couple that won a legal battle against the gestational mother who gave birth to their daughter, but refused to sign the paperwork to allow the baby to leave the country when she found out they were gay. It also provides links to articles covering the case of Baby Gammy and a 24-year old Japanese businessman who fathered 16 children with Thai gestational mothers – both of which led to the country’s current ban on the practice.