Action Alert January 2010
This is an archived edition of Action Alert.
Altruistic Surrogacy and Same-Sex Parenting
In February 2008, the Queensland State Government launched a parliamentary inquiry into the possibility of decriminalising altruistic surrogacy. The inquiry committee tabled its report, entitled Investigation into the Decriminalisation and Regulation of Altruistic Surrogacy in Queensland, in October 2008. In summary, the report recommended that –
- altruistic surrogacy be decriminalise subject to a regulatory framework
- the Government’s role should be to introduce the legislative reform (including a mechanism to transfer legal parentage)
- altruistic surrogacy arrangements be unenforceable under State law [meaning, for example, that the intended parents could not sue the birth mother if the child was born with a disability, or that the intended parents would have no legal recourse if the birth mother changed her mind and refused to ‘hand over’ the child after his / her birth]
- a genetic connection between the intended parents and the child not be a prescribed requirement [meaning that the child would not have to be conceived using sperm or ova from one or both of the intended parents]
- births be re-registered after the transfer of legal parentage to show the names of the intended parents on the birth certificates, but each child be allowed access to his / her original birth certificate (and therefore knowledge about his / her birth mother) when he / she turns eighteen years of age.
On 23 April 2009, the Government released its response to the Committee’s report, which was basically a commitment to legislate to introduce the report’s recommendations. On 18 August 2009, the Government released the Queensland Model for Surrogacy, setting out in draft form how surrogacy would be set up. On 29 October 2009, Attorney-General Cameron Dick introduced the Surrogacy Bill 2009 to State Parliament, and tabled the draft legislation for public comment.
Clause 14 of the draft Surrogacy Bill 2009 defines the “medical or social need for a surrogacy arrangement”, and declares “There is a medical or social need for a surrogacy arrangement if – (a) the intended parents are a man and an eligible woman; or (b) the intended parents are both men or both eligible women; or (c) the sole intended parent is a man or an eligible woman. In other words, single people and same-sex ‘couples’ who say that they have a “social need” to become parents could enter into a surrogacy arrangement and have a child delivered to them nine months later.
In response, the Queensland Opposition angrily called on the Government to revise the draft Surrogacy Bill 2009 to allow MPs to vote separately on the issue of decriminalising surrogacy for heterosexual couples and then vote on the extension of the ‘service’ to same-sex ‘couples’ and single people. When the Government refused to do this, Deputy Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg introduced a private member’s bill to limit the decriminalisation of surrogacy just to married couples and heterosexual de facto couples who have been together for at least two years. Mr Springborg said, “The Bill will make certain that young Queenslanders born through an eligible surrogacy arrangement will be cared for in a safe, stable and nurturing family and home life right through their childhood. Our Bill also makes it clear that the only form of surrogacy which will be legal will be non-commercial and for heterosexual couples only. Same-sex and single surrogacy arrangements will remain illegal.”
Attorney-General Cameron Dick said that the LNP’s Bill was a “disgraceful step backwards for Queensland” and went on to say, “The Government’s draft legislation … demonstrates the Bligh Government’s commitment to social reform, equality and the importance of family.”
In fact, surrogacy always raises difficulties! While we can sympathise with medically-infertile couples who want to have a child, the decriminalisation of altruistic surrogacy implicitly elevates the ‘reproductive rights’ of adults over the wellbeing of children, and also reduces children to being viewed as commodities. The draft Bill proposed by the Opposition is much better than the one proposed by the Government, but, under the provisions of anti-discrimination laws, one wonders how long the prohibitions against same-sex couples accessing surrogacy arrangements would be allowed to stand anyway.
If you live in Queensland, contact your local State parliamentarian before the parliament resumes on 9 February 2010. If you do not know the name and address of your State MP, go to www.parliament.qld.gov.au, click on Legislative Assembly, and then on Current Members. This will give a list of members and their contact information. Also, whether you live in Queensland or not, contact Hon Anna Bligh, Premier and Minister for the Arts [PO Box 15185, City East, Qld, 4002 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org] to express the view that the Government should, at best, abandon its plans to legalise altruistic surrogacy and, at second best, not extend such arrangements to same-sex ‘couples’ and single people. Children deserve better!
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Who will stand up for me against evildoers?
Who will take his stand for me against those who do wickedness?
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This monthly release is prepared by Pastor Brian Robertson (P O Box 2367, Bundaberg, 4670) to inform Christian people about issues within our society. “Action Alert” does not promote any one political party, but encourages its readers to be “salt and light” by speaking out on some of these matters. The views expressed in “Action Alert” are those of the author and are not necessarily those of a local church or a denominational organisation. To the extent permissible by law, no church or denomination accepts liability for anything contained in this publication and any use made of it.