surrogacy, commercial surrogacy, altruistic surrogacy, IVF

Having successfully had two children myself I can’t imagine what it would be like not to be able to conceive or carry a baby, but for many women having a baby is not so simple.  Recurrent miscarriages, numerous failed IVF attempts, an abnormal uterus or certain health conditions that make pregnancy dangerous are all common reasons why more Australian women as well as same sex couples are now looking at surrogacy as a viable way of having a baby.

What are the types of surrogacy?

Commercial surrogacy is when the surrogate mother is paid a fee for her services beyond the cost of the medical fees.  This form of surrogacy is currently illegal in Australia.

Altruistic surrogacy is when the surrogate mother is paid no financial reward for the pregnancy – only the medical costs are covered by the parents.  Although different states in Australia have different laws, this form of surrogacy is legal throughout most of Australia.

Why do some women prefer surrogacy over adoption?

  • There are very few children up for adoption each year in Australia
  • There are age limits to adoptive parents
  • Surrogacy uses the embryo from the parents which means they will be genetically linked to the child

Because advertising for a surrogate is illegal, finding a surrogate in Australia can be a difficult and lengthy process.  There are certain rules and regulations that need to be adhered to as well as Police checks and counselling sessions for all involved which puts a lot of people off the process.  For these reasons as well as the fact that commercial surrogacy is illegal in Australia, it forces more and more women to turn to countries like Thailand or India to find women who they can pay to carry their child.  Unfortunately a lot of these babies are born in what some people describe as ‘baby factories’ where hundreds of women are paid a minimal amount of money to live and carry babies for couples who are unable to conceive.

Although these ‘factories’ can be a god-send for many Western couples, there have been horror stories of surrogate mothers being mistreated, baby mix ups and multiple embryos transferred to multiple surrogates to increase the chance of a successful pregnancy which then results in the parents being left with multiple children.

If commercial surrogacy was legalised in Australia we would hope that surrogate mothers would be treated respectfully, they would receive proper medical care and they would be paid a fair amount of money.  Despite this though, there is always the concern that some surrogate mothers would be influenced by the money without being well informed and there is the potential for some people to profit from the misfortune of desperate parents.

A lot of people think it’s unfair that some parents have to travel overseas to have a baby and that the laws in Australia should be relaxed to make surrogacy easier and more appealing.  After all, it is the only option that some parents have of having a child that is genetically related to them.

Do you think that if commercial surrogacy in Australia was legalised it would work?

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By Karyn Miller