An Australian surrogacy lobby has called for commercial surrogacy to be legalised in Australia. It is currently banned in all of the country’s states.
However, in 2019-20 275 babies born overseas to surrogate mothers were granted Australian citizenship, the highest number on record. Thailand and India, formerly popular destinations, no longer allow foreigners to employ surrogate mothers, so Australians have been going elsewhere.
According to figures from the Department of Home Affairs for the year 2019-20, 120 children were born in the United States, the most popular destination, followed by Ukraine, with 50.
The figures for altruistic surrogacy within Australia are not clear. In 2018, 87 babies were born in Australia and New Zealand via surrogacy, but this only includes births organised through IVF clinics.
Melbourne surrogacy lawyer Sarah Jefford told The Australian newspaper that surrogacy was much safer in Australia, with its superior health system and better legal framework. In other countries surrogacy was like “baby farming” where clinics exploited poor women.
Local laws should be relaxed, she said, including a ban on advertising for surrogates, so that more Australians could be altruistic surrogates. “We have good frameworks here. The rights of the child and the bodily autonomy of the surrogate are protected,” she said.
Michael Cook is editor of BioEdge
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