ACT News


Canberra Fertility Centre calls for paid surrogacy to be allowed in Australia

The Canberra Fertility Centre has called for paid surrogacy to be made legal in Australia, saying "well over" 200 couples annually would use the option to have a baby.

The centre's medical director, Dr Martyn Stafford-Bell, and scientific director, Christopher Copeland, co-wrote a submission to a Parliament House committee inquiry into surrogacy.

They say fertility centres in Australia should be able to offer paid surrogacy as an option and a ban on advertising for surrogates lifted.

Laws would be uniform and nationally agreed compensation would "prevent competitive offers".

While commercial surrogacy is illegal in all Australian jurisdictions, the standing committee on social policy and legal affairs says many Australians travel overseas to engage in the practice.

Prior evidence to the committee had pointed to "some exploitation of surrogates and children as a result". That was one of the key issues the committee was keen to explore with Surrogacy Australia when it appeared at a hearing on Thursday.


The Canberra Fertility Centre's written submission, meanwhile, said there was a "clear need for compensated surrogacy in Australia".

It suggested more than 200 couples a year would need to use a paid surrogate and that need could not be met solely in Australia so there was a requirement for the government to come up with processes for both domestic and international surrogacy.

The centre says it believes no one should be allowed to travel overseas for surrogacy without being screened, including for a police check. A government agency or a court would issue a permit to travel overseas for the surrogacy.

The centre's submission said it believed paid surrogates in Third World or developing countries could be exploited but it did not believe that would happen in Australia.

"The suggestion of exploitation relies entirely on two fallacies," the submission read.

"The first (which we reject) is that Australian women are unable to make carefully considered decisions and are thus easy to exploit.

"The second is that we in this country are too stupid to promulgate a figure which, while providing some compensation to the surrogate for her generosity, is in no way an escape from poverty. We reject this also."

The centre said Australia should perhaps look to the United States which "manages surrogacy well" and where clinics paid the surrogate around $US30,000 to $US35,000 ($A42,317-$A49,369).

The centre said surrogates were rarely used more than twice, post-surrogacy studies showed the financial aspect featured low in women's motivation to volunteer to be surrogates and clinics used psychological testing and counselling to "usually" reject women motivated only by money, as would be the case in Australia.

Unpaid surrogacy is legal in Australia but different laws in different states and territories meant patients still had to travel interstate for treatment if they were not eligible in their own jurisdiction.

"It is ridiculous that there should be multiple laws on the subject in a country of 23 million people," the centre's submission read, adding consistent legislation on unpaid surrogacy was also needed.

The committee is expected to report by June 30.