Surrogacy Legalisation in Australia

Women usually become a surrogate mother because they receive compensation in one form or another from doing it; others do it because a family member cannot produce a baby of their own. Homosexual couples tend to use surrogacy as an option to have a child of their own, as compared to adopting a child. Due to commercial surrogacy being illegal in Australia, it has driven homosexual couples to other countries such as India where the surrogate mothers are not as healthy as the ones in Australia.

Commercial surrogacy should be legalised in Australia so people of all sexualities do not revert to other countries where poor women are exploited and help protect the legal status of children there. (Esther Han, December 9, 2012, Sydney Morning Herald) Through surrogacy, couples of either heterosexuals or homosexuals are able to have a family of their own if they cannot produce one for themselves. There are two types of surrogacy; traditional and gestational. A traditional surrogate is a woman who donates her own egg and then carries out the pregnancy.

Their egg is donated from their own body with the sperm of the father or the sperm from a donor. A gestational surrogacy is when the surrogate isn’t biologically or genetically related to the child that she is carrying. Through the process of in vitro fertilization, the carrier becomes pregnant. This fertilization is where an embryo or several embryos are created from the eggs and sperm of the intended parents are implanted in the uterus for the gestational period of 40 weeks.

As in the grounds of nature it takes a man’s sperm and a woman’s egg to create a baby, it makes it impossible for homosexual people or couples to conceive a baby of their own and therefore surrogacy is an option for them. In gestational surrogacy, there is no direct genetic impact on the baby from the surrogate mother and there is no DNA from the surrogate mother to the baby. This is because the embryotic sack that the baby is in has already got the DNA from its’ mother and father through the in vitro fertilization procedure.

However, if the surrogate mother is not getting enough nutrients in her diet or if she were to drink or take drugs, this would affect the health and development of the baby as if it would a traditional surrogacy. Homosexual couples tend to go for surrogacy as opposed to adoption due to the fact that many homosexual couples want a baby that is created from their own DNA (because they cannot create their own with a woman) and not bring up someone else’s child through adoption.

Not only because of these reasons do they tend to go for surrogacy, but also because adoption for homosexuals either in a relationship or not and single people has now become prohibited in almost every country in the world. There are a few concerns that do influence the decision on whether a homosexual couple adopt (if they were able to in that particular country) or apply for a gestational surrogate. Some of the concerns that they have with adoption is that some mothers decide to change their minds at the last minute and keep their baby instead of giving it to the adoptive parents.

The costs that are involved with adoption and surrogacy are around the same amount of money to pursue; so many homosexual and heterosexual couples tend to go for surrogacy because even with the slight price increase of surrogacy, the couple would have a baby that is created from their own DNA. For the homosexual couple however, the DNA would come from one of the parents (Janna Herron, Bank Rate, 2013). In Australia, the current laws have stated that commercial surrogacy is illegal.

However, there is no current law that states in Australia that non-commercial surrogacy also known as altruistic surrogacy is illegal. According to the Surrogacy Act of 2010, any parties can enter into a non-commercial/altruistic surrogacy agreement regardless of their sex and relationship status. The surrogate mother of the intending parents is not allowed to receive money or any compensation from the intending parents, but are allowed to have any medical expenses that are related to the baby be compensated for by the intending parents.

For a homosexual couple, finding a willing surrogate mother in Australia who doesn’t want to be compensated more than what the law states is almost impossible to find, and this therefore leads homosexual couples to apply for surrogacy in other countries such as India. Each year, India produces hundreds of babies through commercial gestational surrogacy to intending parents all around the world. A vast amount of these babies from India go to intending homosexual couples of Australia.

Just before Christmas last year, India changed their law for surrogacy to now exclude homosexuals, singles and people of all genders that are in a de facto relationship. This new law has been put into place because there are people who access surrogacy, rather than assisting the surrogates and the way in which surrogacy is done (Janna Herron, Bank Rate, 2013). This new law in India has affected homosexual couples especially because they can no longer apply for commercial surrogacy because they no longer fit in with the new criteria.

These laws have been passed because of the controversial issues that may occur and the psychological issues that child may receive from having two parents of the same sex raise them. There are many controversial issues with being in a same sex relationship, including that of same sex rights and children. Children are an important aspect of many people’s lives. One of the issues that have arisen is whether a child who is raised from same sex parents will suffer from psychological abnormalities or development issues.

Studies have shown from The American Psychiatric Association that there are no development issues or differences between children who have been raised by either homosexual or heterosexual parents. The child’s intelligence, psychological adjustment, popularity with friends, development of social sex role identity or development of sexual orientation has not been negatively affected or influenced due to their parents’ sexual origin as many stereotypes may point out.

Another controversial issue that same sex couples face is the nature vs. nurture theory. Some people believe that if a man and a woman cannot produce a baby of their own, then they should therefore not be having children. This same theory applies to homosexual couples. In the eyes of society, if a homosexual couples cannot produce a baby naturally, than they should not be allowed to participate in the surrogacy scheme. This shouldn’t be the case for anyone, homosexual or not (Surrogacy Controversy, 2009)

Controversial issues aside, should the legalisation of commercial surrogacy for heterosexuals and homosexuals in Australia occur? The answer is yes. Homosexuals should be allowed to access commercial surrogacy in Australia because we know the environment the women are living in is much more sanitised and cleaner as opposed to the third world countries such as India where intending same sex parents have had to resort to in order to have a baby.

The surrogate mothers of Australia should be allowed to be compensated for the physical hardships and mental discomforts that she may endure. Studies have shown that no mental development issues have occurred from children who have same sex parents and there are no negative effects on the children. Everyone has the right to have a child and by legalising commercial surrogacy in Australia, more people will be able to have the families they’ve always wanted instead of having to meet the new criteria of the Indian laws.

And sure, two daddies cannot give a child a mothers’ love but they can definitely give them double daddy love and in the end all that matters to a child is that they are loved by their parents; even if that happens to be two mums or two dads (Rosemary Odgers and Margaret Wenham, Courier Mail, February 10,2010). Reference List; • Esther Han, December 9, 2012, Sydney Morning Herald, accessed Thursday 22nd May, 2013) < http://www. smh. com. au/national/call-to-reform-surrogacy-laws-20121208-2b264. html> • Farlex Inc. 013, The Free Dictionary, accessed Friday 10th May, 2013 • Kerry Brewster, 2013, ABC News, accessed Friday 10th May, 2013 • Professor Jenni Millbank, 2013, ABC News, accessed Friday 10th May, 2013 • Janna Herron, Bank Rate, 2013, accessed Friday 17th May, 2013 • Surrogacy Act of Australia, 2010, accessed on Friday 24th May, 2013 • Surrogacy Controversy, April 2009, accessed Sunday 26th May, 2013 • Rosemary Odgers and Margaret Wenham, Courier Mail, February 10, 2010, accessed Sunday 26th May, 2013