Family Court Chief Justice calls for legalisation of commercial surrogacy arrangements
During a recent lecture hosted by the University of Queensland, Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia Diana Bryant called for commercial surrogacy to be legalised in Australia.
Commercial surrogacy, that is an individual or couple paying a woman to carry a baby on their behalf, is illegal in all Australian states. Residents of Queensland, New South Wales and the ACT can be subject to criminal charges should they engage in commercial surrogacy arrangements overseas.
Justice Bryant highlighted, however, that the existing legal framework appeared not to have deterred many Australians entering into overseas commercial surrogacy arrangements, often with troubling ethical and legal outcomes.
Regulation of commercial surrogacy arrangements, as opposed to the current blanket ban, would permit the Australian government to take greater control of a process that appears to be occurring regardless of the laws against it. Some level of government oversight would assist in protecting children born from the surrogacy process as well as the women in overseas jurisdictions providing the service, many of whom are impoverished and lack proper medical care.
Justice Bryant also commented that, in the alternative to permitting commercial surrogacy arrangements, the government could start vigorously enforcing the ban so that the process becomes too risky for prospective parents to engage in.