What’s happened to international surrogacy over the last 6-12 months? There’s been on-again off-again media attention on international surrogacy, especially involving Australians in India and Thailand and an outcry by various interest groups locally on the number of couples heading overseas to conceive. But what does it all mean for intended and hopefully parents in Australia?
The NSW Attorney General is currently reviewing the Surrogacy Act in New South Wales and submissions have already closed. It’s unlikely that there will be any immediate change to the prohibition of ‘commercial surrogacy’, but despite this being part of the current legislation, it apparently hasn’t stopped many people from successfully conceiving children through surrogacy in other countries.
However, with all the uncertainty surrounding what’s going to happen with surrogacy, especially with the media attention often fixed firmly on the issues of international surrogacy, is it worth it?
In a quick review of clients who seek our assistance with advice or guidance around international surrogacy, the main driving force is cost and availability of a suitable surrogate. Many of them have been through various IVF and ART procedures in Australia, spending a small fortune on medical procedures, but without success. Many of them – perhaps due to the length of the procedures or other life choices – are no longer suitable candidates for IVF/ART or surrogacy according to the guidelines of clinics in Australia. Whatever the case may be, they find their solution in less regulated countries where it’s possible for them to undergo the necessary medical procedures for a fraction of the cost – and perhaps where it’s possible to find a suitable candidate to be a surrogate (irrespective of whether that’s officially considered to be a commercial or altruistic surrogacy or not).
The countries where there’s been a bit of a spotlight in recent times, namely India and Thailand, have been attractive destinations for couples seeking an alternative to the restricted and regulated surrogacy process in NSW, or other states in Australia. However, even countries like India and Thailand have undergone substantial legal reform when it comes to surrogacy, and the potential for their nationals becoming paid surrogates for overseas intended parents – including those from Australia.
To understand the social and legal developments in those countries and before financially committing yourself, I encourage you to do your research extensively before incurring the cost of travelling only to find that the hope or the options you were looking for are no longer possible or viable.
My Personal Invitation
Choosing to have a child through surrogacy or agreeing to be a surrogate mother is an important life choice that shouldn't be taken lightly. As the father of two boys, I personally know the joys (and challenges) of being a parent. I also understand why you're going through what you're going through to become a parent yourself. That's the human condition.
By the time you're reading this article, you've probably spent a small fortune on medical expenses and taken a ride on an emotional roller coaster which I'm sure has had a physical and psychological toll on you and your family. But if you're here, then you've come to the right place and you're heading in the right direction.
My team of lawyers and I have been helping intended parents and surrogate mothers (and their partners) understand their rights and obligations arising from surrogacy, as well as the legal process necessary to ensure a successful outcome, even before the Surrogacy Act was introduced. During this time, we've noticed that there's a general lack of reliable information regarding surrogacy in the public space (including the internet) and that's why we're proud to have developed this website. We developed this website to help you in your research, to understand your legal rights and obligations, and to guide you each step of the way in terms of the legal and social issues that you'll face.
Allow us to have privilege of advising you and representing you throughout the surrogacy process and share the joy of your new family.
This website is maintained by Phang Legal, a boutique legal practice in Parramatta that provides legal advice and representation in surrogacy and family law related matters for intended parents and surrogate/birth parents across New South Wales.
Ern Phang is the solicitor director of Phang Legal. Ern regularly writes about his experiences in helping clients with understanding their legal rights and obligations in surrogacy matters.
All information contained in this article is for general purposes only and correct as at the time of publication. You should only rely on information and advice that is specific to your situation and current at the time you wish to rely on it.