Should childless couples seek out poor women in third world countries to exploit child bearing?
Is there a morality issue where gay men/women, in a legal marriage, aspire to surrogacy?
A Queensland male gay couple were imprisoned last year for, the police believe, creating a boy child by surrogacy specifically for abuse. The boy was acquired from a Russian surrogate mother and the abuse started shortly after birth. Sexual abuse of him was uploaded to a boy lovers’ site and he was taken around the world for abuse by other pedophiles.
Thailand has been front page news in Bangkok for weeks now causing its government to take more radical action to enforce a previously ignored court order requirement for new parents.
Thailand, of course, we’ve had the train wreck of the baby Gammy affair and the Japanese man who, at last count, has seemingly fathered 16 kids. So Thailand has said unless it’s an altruistic surrogate and you’re a blood relative and you’re married and you’re infertile, then you can’t undertake surrogacy there. In India you have to be married, and that’s heterosexual marriage I should say, for two years, and you must be from a place where surrogacy is legal. So if you come from Queensland, New South Wales or the ACT you can’t go to India either.
There is currently no national position in relation to commercial surrogacy in Australia. Each state is responsible for surrogacy laws operating in that state, creating a confusing tapestry of regulation. Commercial surrogacy is illegal in QLD, NSW and ACT, whether the surrogacy agreement is entered into in those states or in overseas jurisdictions. In VIC, TAS, SA and WA, commercial surrogacy is banned within the particular state only, allowing residents to access commercial surrogacy arrangements overseas. The NT currently has no surrogacy legislation, and the outcome of a review into WA’s surrogacy laws is expected to be released in October.
But what we must not forget are the realities of this “business”. We so often do not hear about the number of abortions it took to get the final product right, or the miscarriages, the early births, the pregnancy complications, the babies left behind, or the reasons why the surrogate entered the arrangement for money in the first place. Whenever commercial surrogacy takes place, there are risks and power imbalances.
Also, reject commercial surrogacy, is another form of human trafficking An Australian buyer a Thai child has a wife, but has been found to be a serious child sex offender , which raises questions about his intentions for the child. There are precedents of the creation of children for the specific purpose of sexual abuse. The father in the baby Gammy case has publicly denied this was his intention.
The surrogacy industry has transformed the understanding of motherhood. It creates two classes of mothers, birth mothers and commissioning mothers, who may or may not be related to the babies they pay for. An industry created for profit has already upturned generational ties with grandmothers bearing children for their own daughters.
Some point to the “happy stories” of surrogacy fulfilling the dreams of would-be parents of having a family. And no doubt, there are families who must be happy having had a child they can call their “own”.
The majority of nations that regulate surrogacy worldwide, prohibit commercial surrogacy. Such prohibitions are largely based on views that commercial surrogacy commodifies women and children, and poses an unacceptable risk of exploitation and human trafficking.