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Surrogate moms sue Thai ministry for custody of 13 children fathered by Japanese businessman

FILE - In this Aug. 12, 2014 file photo, the media cover as Thai police display pictures of surrogate babies born to a Japanese man who is at the center of a surrogacy scandal during a press conference at the police headquarters in Chonburi, Thailand. Officials said Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015 the surrogate mothers of 13 babies fathered by a Japanese businessman launched a lawsuit against the Thai authorities and sought to regain custody of the children. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit, File)

FILE - In this Aug. 12, 2014 file photo, the media cover as Thai police display pictures of surrogate babies born to a Japanese man who is at the center of a surrogacy scandal during a press conference at the police headquarters in Chonburi, Thailand. Officials said Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015 the surrogate mothers of 13 babies fathered by a Japanese businessman launched a lawsuit against the Thai authorities and sought to regain custody of the children. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit, File)  (The Associated Press)

Thai authorities say the surrogate mothers of 13 babies fathered by a Japanese businessman have sued the government ministry that took custody of their children.

The Social Development and Human Security Ministry took 13 babies into custody last year after an investigation involving the man alleged to have had at least 16 babies via surrogates.

Ministry official Suwanna Pinkaew said Wednesday the women launched a lawsuit against the ministry in December after filing requests to get back the children.

She said social services were evaluating the circumstances and the women's readiness before reaching a conclusion on the issue.

Thailand's interim parliament initially approved a bill banning commercial surrogacy in November after a string of scandals surrounding the largely unregulated business.