Push for NT surrogacy- please help!

Push for NT surrogacy- please help!

UPDATE: We are pleased to announce that in late December 2022, the Northern Territory (NT) Government commenced the Surrogacy Act 2022 and Surrogacy Regulations 2022.

Currently there is a push for there to be surrogacy laws in the Northern Territory. When all the States copied the ACT’s lead back in 2008-2012 and legislated to allow and regulate surrogacy, the Northern Territory did not.

It is legal  in the Northern Territory to engage in any form of surrogacy. Whilst this might seem a case of anything goes, in reality no surrogacy can happen there, at least through an IVF clinic, because:

  • the only IVF clinic in the Northern Territory, Repromed, cannot undertake any commercial surrogacy. This is because licensing conditions applying to all Australian IVF clinics, the National Health and Medical Research Council, Ethical Guidelines on the use of artificial reproductive technology in clinical practice and research (2017), bans them from taking part in any commercial surrogacy.
  • Repromed has decided that it will not provide treatment in surrogacy cases because the law does not allow the transfer of parentage, a critical part of any surrogacy journey.

In my view the decision by Repromed is fair enough. Imagine wanting to have kids,  going through that clinic and then discovering that you won’t ever become the legal parent!

Intended parents living in the NT are then faced with four heartbreaking choices:

  1. Go interstate and undertake surrogacy there. Of course, this means that they have to uproot themselves from their lives and their jobs in the NT. The NT is home to many people who go tot he Top End for a short posting and then move through. It can ill afford to encourage people to move away due to its legal settings, but it does so currently.
  2. Undertake surrogacy overseas. There is a risk that some people in undertaking an overseas surrogacy journey go to a developing country where the risks of exploitation of them and of the surrogate is higher than it would be at home if surrogacy were allowed.
  3. If you can find a traditional surrogate- do the journey at home, without medical assistance, and fingers crossed have a child- but never be recognised as a parent.
  4. Don’t have kids.

For intended parents who live interstate and are thinking of having a surrogate from the NT, they should think twice about it. If the surrogate gives birth in the NT, then the intended parents may never be recognised as the parents. In one surrogacy journey for a Melbourne couple a few years ago, the surrogate live in the NT. To avoid the difficulty that she might give birth in Victoria, the intended parents arranged for the surrogate to come to Melbourne well and truly  before the birth. Some people might not be so lucky.
It is extraordinary that any Top End surrogate has to travel interstate to give birth- and cannot be a surrogate to a local NT couple (as the parentage won’t change), all because of a lack of laws.
There is a petition on change.org. I’ve signed it and I encourage everyone to sign it. There is also a Facebook page. I encourage everyone to  like it.
A push some years ago to have surrogacy laws in the NT didn’t come to fruition. The sooner there are commonsense laws in the NT to regulate surrogacy and enable the recognition of intended parents as the parents of children born through surrogacy, the better. They can’t come soon enough.
Things to Read, Watch & Listen

Forced Marriage

On November 1st 2023, Accredited Family Law Specialist and Page Provan Director Stephen Page presented a paper at the Brisbane Zonta Club about forced marriage. I acknowledge the Jagera and Turrbal peoples, on whose lands we meet today, their elders, past, present and emerging. Ruqia Hidari was aged 21 and living in Victoria, when, according to police,… Read More »Forced Marriage

ACT Government Surrogacy Bill

The ACT Government has today introduced a bill to amend the ACT’s surrogacy laws. The proposed changes are more incremental than fundamental. They include allowing a single person to undertake surrogacy, for the surrogate to be single if needed, a requirement for legal advice and counselling beforehand, a written agreement being required, that traditional surrogacy is… Read More »ACT Government Surrogacy Bill

Planning to resolve: ADR in ART

ADR can help resolve disputes in ART cases. ADR is not limited to mediation and arbitration. Other types of informal dispute resolution can resolve disputes. When assisted reproductive treatment cases go off the rails, they can have the next level of bitterness and volatility. There can be a keen sense of betrayal when things don’t… Read More »Planning to resolve: ADR in ART