Compensation for Birth Mothers?

The question of compensation for surrogacy is a very tricky one. It’s fraught with moral and ethical questions, difficult to answer. On one hand, altruistic surrogates are very few and far inbetween, and women who are unable to bear children are often desperate to find someone who is able to help them start a family. On the other, there are questions in relation to whether pregnancy and conception should be available for “sale” or whether people should be allowed to “purchase” babies.

The NSW position says that surrogacy agreements are unenforceable. It doesn’t even go into contracts. It says no, we’re not dealing about a transaction, whether commercial or altruistic. We are dealing with human life.

Starting down the compensation path is a slippery slope. There are more than enough stories about surrogacy in poor foreign countries where poor mothers enter into agreements to essentially become baby incubators, and more often than not, they do not get paid much for it.

The second reading speech for the Surrogacy Act 2010 NSW in Parliament sheds some light in relation to the considerations of the legislators:

This offence aims to prevent the commercialisation of human reproduction. As the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General noted in its 2009 discussion paper, “commercial surrogacy commodifies the child and the surrogate mother, and risks the exploitation of poor families for the benefit of rich ones”.


The NSW legislation says that the surrogate’s costs are to be compensated. This can be medical, legal, counselling, and any unpaid leave due to the pregnancy. Is this good enough? It’s hard to say.

Nevertheless – Given the moral and ethical questions surrounding this, there will unlikely be a position that everyone will be happy with.