Bioethics News

Australian govt report backs ban on domestic commercial surrogacy

A government report has backed calls for an international treaty on surrogacy and for uniform legislation within Australia banning commercial surrogacy.

A Senate committee tabled its conclusions this week. In a nutshell, it backs altruistic surrogacy, but not commercial surrogacy. In a society where marriage and the family are changing rapidly, with many children lacking genetic connections with parents, surrogacy can be a solution for infertile couples, it contends.

However, the report left a number of issues in the too-hard basket. The include changing birth certificates to include all people who could qualify as parents – genetic, gestational and intended and making use of commercial surrogates overseas illegal.

Research shows that about 250 children from commercial surrogacy arrangements are brought back to Australia every year. Australia is powerless to stop this, argues the committee. The best the government can do is to give advice about the dangers of offshore arrangements and the possibility of abusing the human rights of the women involved.

Everyone agrees that fundamental principle of surrogacy must be the “best interests of the child”. However, there is a stark division on what those are. Some people told the committee that surrogacy in any form could never be in the best interests of the child because it creates confusion about his or her identity and is inconsistent with the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child. Others declared that it could be consistent. The committee sat on the fence.

Another issue is reimbursement for “reasonable expenses” for altruistic surrogates. The committee backed “appropriate reimbursement”. 

This article is published by Michael Cook and BioEdge under a Creative Commons licence.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.