Monday, October 22, 2018

Push for NT surrogacy- please help!

Currently there is a push for there to be surrogacy laws in the Northern Territory. When all the States copied the ACT's lead back in 2008-2012 and legislated to allow and regulate surrogacy, the Northern Territory did not.

It is legal  in the Northern Territory to engage in any form of surrogacy. Whilst this might seem a case of anything goes, in reality no surrogacy can happen there, at least through an IVF clinic, because:

  • the only IVF clinic in the Northern Territory, Repromed, cannot undertake any commercial surrogacy. This is because licensing conditions applying to all Australian IVF clinics, the National Health and Medical Research Council, Ethical Guidelines on the use of artificial reproductive technology in clinical practice and research (2017), bans them from taking part in any commercial surrogacy.
  • Repromed has decided that it will not provide treatment in surrogacy cases because the law does not allow the transfer of parentage, a critical part of any surrogacy journey. 
In my view the decision by Repromed is fair enough. Imagine wanting to have kids,  going through that clinic and then discovering that you won't ever become the legal parent!

Intended parents living in the NT are then faced with four heartbreaking choices:

  1. Go interstate and undertake surrogacy there. Of course, this means that they have to uproot themselves from their lives and their jobs in the NT. The NT is home to many people who go tot he Top End for a short posting and then move through. It can ill afford to encourage people to move away due to its legal settings, but it does so currently.
  2. Undertake surrogacy overseas. There is a risk that some people in undertaking an overseas surrogacy journey go to a developing country where the risks of exploitation of them and of the surrogate is higher than it would be at home if surrogacy were allowed.
  3. If you can find a traditional surrogate- do the journey at home, without medical assistance, and fingers crossed have a child- but never be recognised as a parent.
  4. Don't have kids. 


For intended parents who live interstate and are thinking of having a surrogate from the NT, they should think twice about it. If the surrogate gives birth in the NT, then the intended parents may never be recognised as the parents. In one surrogacy journey for a Melbourne couple a few years ago, the surrogate live in the NT. To avoid the difficulty that she might give birth in Victoria, the intended parents arranged for the surrogate to come to Melbourne well and truly  before the birth. Some people might not be so lucky.

It is extraordinary that any Top End surrogate has to travel interstate to give birth- and cannot be a surrogate to a local NT couple (as the parentage won’t change), all because of a lack of laws.

There is a petition on change.org. I’ve signed it and I encourage everyone to sign it. There is also a Facebook page. I encourage everyone to  like it.

A push some years ago to have surrogacy laws in the NT didn't come to fruition. The sooner there are commonsense laws in the NT to regulate surrogacy and enable the recognition of intended parents as the parents of children born through surrogacy, the better. They can’t come soon enough.

1 comment:

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