Sunday, August 16, 2015

What has happened a year past the Baby Gammy saga?

It was about a year ago when the Baby Gammy saga burst onto our screens. For the next month, whether I liked it or not, I lived and breathed every development. For one whole month I did hardly any work, but instead found myself, as the expert du jour, at the centre of the maelstrom as seemingly all the world's media wanted to write about surrogacy.

I have no connection with Baby Gammy, his parents or the surrogate in Thailand. My only involvement was as an expert on Australia's surrogacy laws.

In that month, the world went crazy for me. To give some examples:

  • On the day the story broke,  after attending a family funeral in country NSW I was interviewed outside for 20 minutes beside falling sleet, while family members were safely ensconced inside, enjoying the wake!
  • That same day 4 hours of effort ended up with 10 seconds on The Project.
  • The following Tuesday I was interviewed five times for network TV: Today, National Nine News, SBS News, 7.30 Report, The Project.
  • The following day it was the turn of The Morning Show and Paul Murray Live, on Sky.
  • There were the radio interviews- many on ABC, plus commercial radio, and Radio NZ.
  • Then there was the international media, ranging from DW in German, Fuji TV in Japan, Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, amongst others.
  • And of course our newspapers/online including News Ltd, Fairfax (who broke the story), Guardian and Daily Mail Australia.
On one of the quieter days I received three phone calls: from the New York Times, SBS Insight and Cosmo!

It seemed like I was living a recreated version of Evelyn Waugh's Scoop, with every journalist trying to get their own angle on this huge story.

But what's changed? Not much. Western Australia, the epicentre of the surrogacy, was undergoing its statutory review of surrogacy at the time, but its Health Minister declared, in the spirit of Officer Barbrady from South Park, nothing to see here, everything is fine, no change is required.

South Australia has made changes, which I will blog about separately.

Otherwise, no changes at this end.

The Hague is still going through its review processes to determine what form an international convention to regulate international surrogacy will take.

Thailand stopped surrogacy there dead in its tracks. It hasn't restarted there- but Dr Pisit, the centre of the case, is still practising as an IVF doctor. Anecdotal evidence is that Thai doctors have helped create embryos in Cambodia, to then be sent on to Nepal for surrogacy.

The Japanese man who fathered between 12 and 18 children through surrogacy, Mitsutoki Shigota, appears to have custody of some of them at least.

With the closing of Thailand, Nepal and Mexico have boomed. Jane Cowan said on Foreign Correspondent last year:

"What’s clear is while one culprit’s been exposed, there will always be another rogue operator, new sets of parents desperate to have children, and a willing supply of surrogates trying to better their own lives. And when this pattern plays out around the world in developing countries with next to no regulation, there are very few winners."



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