Sunday, November 30, 2014

Stage 1 of the surrogacy grand tour

Recently I undertook three weeks away from the office, travelling almost 40,000 km in the process, as the followers of my Twitter feed and Facebook feed would already be aware.

Stage 1 of the surrogacy grand tour was in Sydney. I attended there for the Australian national family law conference. As usually happens with such conferences, I enjoyed stimulating topics by interesting speakers, and caught up with friends and colleagues, some of whom had come from the other side of the world.

What I had not expected to occur was another media fire storm, albeit thankfully not on the same scale as Baby Gammy. The ABC had been working on a story about an Australian couple who had been having twins in India some years before, but decided that they only wanted one of the twins because it was the "wrong" gender. The issue was raised by Family Court Chief Justice Diana Bryant, who said that the child had allegedly been taken care of by family, but that consular staff believed that money had changed hands, which meant of course that there was baby trafficking occurring.

Then Chief Federal Court Judge John Pascoe took the matter further. His Honour spoke at length about surrogacy. He had a dramatic prop for his speech. It was a box, not much bigger than a shoe box. Babies packed in boxes like this one had been found in a baby trafficking racket in Indochina. His Honour sought to emphasise that the most vulnerable, the children, need to be the ones protected most in any surrogacy arrangement. His Honour spoke of the twins, born to a Norwegian couple, who  had been unable to leave India. These children were born Stateless and were not recognised in either India or Norway!A disaster that should have been avoided by getting legal advice in both places before starting out- but still a disaster for the intended parents, but especially for the children.

Following these speeches, the media again took a keen interest in surrogacy. I found myself in the thick of it. In one day I had:


  • four TV interviews: ABC 24, ABC TV news, SBS World News, The Project (Ten network)
  • 3 radio interviews: AM (ABC Radio National), ABC Darwin, Checkpoint (NZ Radio)
  • 1 print/web interview: The Guardian Australia 
I hope it makes a difference, and that we are able to have a regime of regulation in this country that is able to protect all concerned- intended parents, surrogates, their partners, donors, their partners, and above all the children, but enable people to achieve their innate desires to become parents. 

And the surprise of the interviews? Having the Family Court tweet that in my interview with ABC 24 I had accurately related the state of surrogacy laws in Australia. 

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