Calls for changes to surrogacy laws

Date: Sep 04, 2012

Surrogacy Australia is calling for a review into surrogacy laws as it claims couples who are using clinics in India for surrogate mothers are being ripped off.

Currently it is illegal to pay for someone to carry your child, whether domestically or internationally, if you live in New South Wales, Queensland or the Australian Capital Territory.  As a result, Surrogacy Australia is asking for a review of the current laws, which force potential parents to risk prosecution and go to India. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, its estimated that Australians make up 40 per cent of the clientele of Indian clinics.

Family law advice will be handed to the federal attorney-general in late 2013.

The number of Australian children born in India from surrogates has exploded from 170 in 2008 to nearly 400 in 2011. India is the preferred choice for many Australian would-be parents because in other nations like the United States, surrogacy can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

It is claimed some clinics pad bills by ordering unnecessary procedures and medications to ensure an increased bottom line - but parents are so focused on being parents, that they'll pay whatever's being asked. Indian lawyer Anurag Chawla has told the SMH that she's seen how desperate couples are.

'"Clients are just … scared of losing the baby if they object, so they just want to pay and take the baby home, they are so desperate for a child."

But New South Wales attorney-general Greg Smith has ruled out any change to the legislation until a review takes place in about a year’s time, telling Fairfax Media that he believes in protecting the rights of surrogate mothers.

"(The ban) is justified by the need to avoid devaluing human life and dignity, to avoid the exploitation of women, and by the interests of children."

The federal attorney-general, Nicola Roxon has deferred this issue to the Family Law Council for investigation which will present its findings late next year.

Ms Roxon has said that this issue is at the forefront of 21st century parenting and needs to be looked at.

"The Family Law Council is ideally placed to examine the legal issues around surrogacy, parentage and family formation, while ensuring the interests of the child remain paramount.”