Thai man arrested for smuggling sperm to Laos
BANGKOK (AFP) — Thai authorities arrested a man trying to smuggle six vials of sperm into Laos, a customs officer said on Thursday, the latest sign that a commercial surrogacy industry is growing in the opaque communist country following curbs around the region.
The 25-year-old was arrested in the border town of Nong Khai with the tubes packed inside a nitrogen tank, according to a Thai customs officer.
“It was his 13th time smuggling (semen) through Nong Khai,” the official told AFP, requesting anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.
Officials believe the vials were bound for a surrogacy clinic in Laos, an impoverished country that is quickly soaking up demand for the “rent a womb” business.
The boom in Laos, an authoritarian nation with no restrictions on surrogacy, comes after neighboring Thailand and Cambodia clamped down on the industry following a flurry of scandals and concerns about exploitation.
A number of Laos-linked surrogacy agencies and IVF clinics have cropped up in recent months, according to consultancy group Families Through Surrogacy.
Some offer services to carry out the embryo transfer in Laos and then provide pregnancy care for the surrogate in Thailand, a wealthier country with vastly superior medical facilities.
File photo shows a vial of semen.