A family lawyer has welcomed a recommendation by the Federal Circuit Court Chief Judge to review Australia’s surrogacy laws after recent cases have exposed the issues that result from couples seeking overseas surrogates.
Slater and Gordon senior family lawyer Kim Healy agreed with Chief Judge John Pascoe’s comments at the National Family Law Conference today that Australian state legislation needs to be amended to allow commercial surrogacy, subject to statutory controls.
“There are gaping holes in Australia’s laws which forces couples to seek other surrogacy options overseas, putting surrogates and children at risk,” Ms Healy said.
“The wellbeing of children is paramount and Australia’s surrogacy laws should reflect this rather than take a head-in-the-sand approach that forces couples to enter arrangements overseas in a deregulated environment.
“Australian domestic laws are failing to keep pace with the developments of science that allow for children to be born via surrogacy and international laws are unable to deal with the commercial nature of surrogacy market.
“This has led to loop holes being exploited and surrogates and children to be potentially abused.
“A national regulated framework in Australia would certainly afford greater protection to children, surrogates and the intended parents.
“Surrogacy is an important option for couples if they are unable to conceive naturally, but equally, surrogates and children need to be protected.
“Currently altruistic surrogacy is allowed in Australia, but many couples prefer to enter into formal commercial arrangements which are illegal in most states and territories.
“After high profile incidents such as the Baby Gammy case, we are seeing how overseas surrogates are being exploited and children put in high risk situations.
“Some cases have also highlighted the immigration issues couples can face when they try to bring their child back to Australia.”
According to research by Surrogacy Australia, the number of Australian babies born to overseas surrogate mothers was increasing.
“In 2009 there were 97 babies born overseas by surrogates and last year it increased to 296,” Ms Healy said.
“Already this year, there have been more than 250 children born to overseas surrogates – with an increasing number of people turning to international surrogacy options, we need to urgently look at Australia’s laws.”