Researcher calls for urgent review of surrogacy laws

A MEDICAL researcher is calling for an urgent review of surrogacy laws because legislation criminalising compensated surrogacy is not deterring would-be parents.

A spotlight is on international surrogacy laws as the baby Gammy case - where the child was left with his birth mother in Thailand while his twin was brought back to Western Australia - unfolds.

Sam Everingham, from Stethoscope Research, and his academic co-authors conducted an anonymous online survey of 259 intended parents in partnership with Surrogacy Australia, finding laws that make overseas compensated surrogacy arrangements a criminal offence deterred only 9% of respondents.

"Of the 114 who actually lived in Australian states with criminalisation laws, 63 (55%) would enter an overseas surrogacy contract, based on a low probability of prosecution," he and his co-authors wrote.

"The high proportion of intended parents using overseas instead of domestic surrogacy arrangements shows that Australian public policy in this area is failing."

Published in the Medical Journal of Australia, Mr Everingham said legally accessible uncompensated surrogacy processes did not meet the needs of many.

"It appears that the drive to have a child for people who need surrogacy is greater than the barriers erected by Australian legislators," he said.

Of the 259 respondents, 44% did not even consider uncompensated surrogacy - where the surrogate mother is only reimbursed for out-of-pocket medical costs associated with pregnancy and birth - in Australia.