Wake up call to Western Australians- why people go overseas

Wake up call to Western Australians- why people go overseas

The Western Australian was reporting on Saturday that WA Liberal MP’s were looking at banning intended parents from accessing commercial surrogacy overseas.

Dear oh dear. Has it come to this, that they do not know what they do?

The law in WA

If the MP’s looked at their laws, they would see that it is currently illegal in WA to engage in commercial surrogacy overseas. This is because of a combination of the Surrogacy Act and the Criminal Code.

However laws to ban people going overseas for commercial surrogacy don’t work:

  • Queensland, NSW and the ACT have specific bans. Queensland’s has been in place in one form or another since 1988. No one has ever been prosecuted for entering into a commercial surrogacy arrangement overseas, despite hundreds of couples having done so. Is it surprising? Unless full admissions are obtained from the intending parents, prosecuting authorities would need to obtain the co-operation of the surrogate and probably the agency (each of which is unlikely. They are overseas so cannot tbe the subject of a warrant or a subpoena.), and probably have to get them to give evidence in Australia- at significant cost to the taxpayers, diverting taxpayer money in prosecutions away from other criminal law priorities. Very often surrogacy contracts drafted overseas purport to be altruistic in nature.
  • In Europe, where surrogacy is banned, parents still go overseas in good numbers to access surrogacy. For heterosexual couples, this means that they pretend that they were lucky to have had a child overseas. The European bans unduly impact on gay and single men, who cannot pretend to have been pregnant.

Western Australia’s surrogacy laws don’t work, as I have said before. They are far too restrictive. They discriminate against gay and single men. There is a requirement to have approval from a State regulator, which was described by a leading IVF specialist recently as “Stalinist”. Bit of an exaggeration, but I get the point- there is an extra, unnecessary layer of bureaucracy that the taxpayers of Western Australia are paying for. In the year ended 30 June 2013 only two surrogacy arrangements were approved by the regulator, the Reproductive Technology Council. It can be guaranteed that many many more went overseas for surrogacy.

How to stop a Baby Gammy case occurring again

Here are three steps:

  1. Reform the laws in Western Australia.
  2. Allow commercial surrogacy, as part of a package of reforms nationwide. Australia’s IVF clinics are very good operators. The world’s first IVF baby was born in Melbourne. The clinics are used to heavy regulation, and are transparent in their operations. Laws can be put in place that would ensure that there is no exploitation of women, donors, partners, children, or intended parents. If the US can do so successfully for the last 30 or so years, why can’t we?
  3. Bring in a sensible Hague Convention on international surrogacy arrangements that is not too heavy handed, does not discriminate, but sets minimum standards.

The saddest part of the whole process was that Australia’s MP’s decided, for reasons best known to themselves, that only altruistic surrogacy would be allowed. Not one State decided to consider to allow commercial surrogacy. If they had done so, then in all likelihood we would never have heard the unfortunate tale of Baby Gammy and his sister.

I hope that Australian MP’s wake up and realise that we need to take action as a nation, and that we don’t have further cases like Baby Gammy happening again, coming from places like the Republic of Georgia or Nepal.

    Things to Read, Watch & Listen

    What You Need to Know About Adoption in Australia

    In this video, Award-Winning surrogacy lawyer and Accredited Family Law Specialist, Stephen Page reveals the key things that you need to know regarding adoption in Australia.

    Same Sex Couples & Adoption in Australia

    In this video, Award-Winning surrogacy lawyer and Accredited Family Law Specialist, Stephen Page covers the essential legal steps for same-sex couples adopting in Australia.

    The Pope’s cruel take on surrogacy

    “I’m beautiful in my way ’cause God makes no mistakes I’m on the right track, baby, I was born this way” Lady Gaga I am outraged at the steps by the Pope’s call to stop surrogacy and be critical of LGBTQIA+ people.  It is no surprise, but it still saddens me. On Monday 8 April… Read More »The Pope’s cruel take on surrogacy

    Family Law Section Law Council of Australia Award
    Member of Queensland law society
    Family law Practitioners Association
    International Academy of Family Lawyers - IAFL
    Mediator Standards Board