Susannah McDonald weighs in on the surrogacy debate – if we can assist women with conception, why can’t we go one step further and allow for legal commercial surrogacy in Australia? A response to this article can also be found here.
If you haven’t heard about the international surrogacy scandal in Thailand, you must have been on a three-month trek through the Himalayas with no reception, Wi-Fi, or access to an internet café.
Just in case this was you, the scandal around baby Gammy involved an Australian couple who left their little boy with his surrogate mother because he had Down syndrome, bringing his healthy twin sister home.
While a variety of obvious questions have arisen over the baby Gammy situation, the one most prominent for this writer is whether Australia’s laws to make commercial surrogacy a criminal offence can be partially blamed for this atrocity. Hundreds of Australian couples are waiting in Thailand to see if they will make it home safely with their babies – could the Australian Government have prevented this?
Australia, like most of Europe, allows altruistic surrogacy where one woman can carry another’s foetus to full term as a favour to a friend or relative, provided that no money passes hands. Those who are wanting a child and don’t have friends willing to help out with such an arrangement, only have the option to go to a country where they can engage (read = pay) someone to be a surrogate – and often, this is a country that does not have the political, economical or social stability of Australia.
And then this happens – a surrogate mother paid to birth a child, not have a child, ends up with one that is not biologically hers and the biological parents get away with it.
Further, because of this, Thailand has decided it isn’t going to allow commercial surrogacy either.
Is Australia not stable enough to provide a safe and secure environment for its citizens to fulfill their dreams of becoming parents?
If it’s a moral issue due to the exchange of money, given altruistic surrogacy is deemed OK, let’s confront the big (baby) elephant in the room.
And the relevance of this would be…?
Stay with me.
If a brothel is registered and complies with the laws set in place by the State and Territory Governments then they are legal. It is legal for a man or woman to go into a brothel and essentially pay for the use of someone’s body for an allocated amount of time, albeit not (probably) with procreation – just recreation – in mind.
Now, if these States and Territories were to provide laws that gave rules and regulations for surrogacy agencies to comply with in a similar fashion, what is the difference?
Both brothels and surrogacy agencies could produce a child, both may not. The money you are paying is for someone to give you something with their body that you couldn’t get yourself.
With this in mind, aren’t a honest couple who have gone through every avenue imaginable to bring a child into the world afforded the right to pay someone to carry and birth their child – the same right as man or woman wanting to have a little fun?
If the government’s problem is paying money to produce a baby, we need to look at all the couples currently having medicinal help or IVF treatment to fall pregnant. Sure, the mother can carry the baby, but they are getting help with the fertilisation, without which, there would be no baby.
Are we willing to segregate a group of people just based on the fact that the woman’s uterus cannot carry a child?
What about drug addicts and sex offenders? Just because a woman has a functioning uterus, regardless of her being a criminal or in no fit state to bring up a child, she is somehow deemed more suitable to become a mother than a couple unable to produce a child – at least according to our government and the state of surrogacy laws in Australia.
In the case of sex offenders, let’s get back to Gammy. It has come to light that David Farrell, the father of Gammy, is a convicted paedophile who spent time in prison for assaulting two girls in the 80s. I’m not suggesting that convicted paedophiles shouldn’t be allowed to have children because, hey, everyone makes mistakes and people can be rehabilitated and who should judge? I am, however, saying that if David Farrell and his wife Wendy were allowed to go through the surrogacy process in Australia, sad surprises like baby Gammy surely wouldn’t pop up as our laws and processes would be a lot more thorough.
If the States and Territories of Australia were able to begin the process of legalising commercial surrogacy, desperate couples wanting a baby would not need to go offshore to have their dreams come true.
They wouldn’t have to be worried about all the potential issues that come with engaging in a lucrative and high-risk industry in another country.
We are apparently the country of the fair go.
Come on Australia, it’s time to give ALL couples a fair go.