Surrogacy debate in Legislative Assembly

Surrogacy debate in Legislative Assembly

Update: Amendments put forward by Linda Burney and Frank Sartor have been successfully attached to the bill meaning that the bill will go back to the Legislative Council for another vote.

The amended bill passed the Legislative Assembly in a vote of 53-27 at around 6:50pm

Update 6:30pm Liberal Member for Ryde Victor Dominello spoke to oppose the bill, but said that he might support a more restrictive bill at a later date.

Labor Member for Campbelltown Graham West opposed the bill claiming that it raised more concerns than it answered.

Labor Member for Bathurst Gerard Martin said he had not intended to speak on the bill but had been moved to do so by some of the claims of its opponents. He spoke in favour of the bill with the amendments  put forward by Linda Burney and Frank Sartor.

The Nationals Katrina Hodgkinson said it was unusual that she had not been lobbied by third party groups on either side of politics. She said that she did not oppose the bill at this stage but was looking forward to considering all amendments.

Wyong ALP Member David Harris said he supported surrogacy “in principle” for infertile women but said he would not support it while it allowed people to access surrogacy based on “social needs”. In the bill this refers to single people and same-sex couples. He supported the Frank Sartor amendment to put a maturity test on intended parents under 25.

Liberal Chris Hartcher opposed the bill as he had opposed same-sex adoption.

Macquarie Fields Labor MP Dr Andrew McDonald, who is a pediatrician, spoke in favour of the bill and to point out that the bill already addressed the concerns that speakers against the bill had raised.

At around 6:15 a vote was held to support the bill “in principle” 54-31.

Update: 5:45pm Debate on the Surrogacy Bill 2010 began in the Legislative Assembly today at around 5pm, with Labor Riverstone MP John Aquilina and the Liberals Jonathan O’Dea the first to speak against the bill.

The Nationals’ Russell Turner spoke in favour of the bill, unamended.

Clover Moore spoke in favour of the bill as amended by Linda Burney to criminalise overseas commercial surrogacy arangements.

Frank Sartor put forward an amendment to put a maturity test on intended parents under 25.

The debate can be watched live at-

4pm: The Labor Member for Canterbury, Linda Burney, has foreshadowed an amendment to the Surrogacy Bill currently before parliament.

The amendment would see NSW residents who travel overseas to enter into commercial surrogacy arrangements, guilty of a crime even where the arrangements were legal in the country where the arrangement took place.

Currently the Surrogacy Bill only makes it illegal to undergo commercial surrogacy in NSW but leaves other countries to regulate their own jurisdictions.

This means that NSW residents who enter into overseas commercial surrogacy arrangements would simply not be recognised as parents under NSW law.

Burney’s amendment goes a step further, making it a criminal offence to have a baby through commercial surrogacy, with a maximum penalty of $110,000 or two years in prison or both for those found guilty.

Whether Burney’s amendment is attached to the bill will be decided by MPs through a conscience vote.

It is unknown how wide support for such an amendment would be.

In an email to MPs, Burney said the bill was intended to punish those who “take advantage of women who hire out their bodies because they are poor.”

Burney wrote that she believed the amendment would not disadvantage children born from such arrangements as their parents could apply to adopt them or seek a parenting order.

Debate on the Surrogacy Bill was supposed to have resumed yesterday but was pushed off the agenda in the Legislative Assembly by a fiery debate over political donations reform.

The NSW Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby (GLRL) has encouraged community members to write to Burney and other MPs.

“The provision to criminalise extraterritorially may impact on children born via commercial surrogacy and dissuade parents from seeking parenting orders for fear of criminal prosecution, which could result in the children having no legal recognition to their parents,” said NSW GLRL policy coordinator Senthorun Raj.

“We want to ensure that all children have the legal rights and protections regardless of their method of conception.”

Sydney Star Observer understands that the Liberal Member for Epping, Greg Smith, will also seek an amendment barring same-sex couples from altruistic surrogacy arrangements.

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7 responses to “Surrogacy debate in Legislative Assembly”

  1. Ms. Sainsbury, are you not an employee of an Indian ART clinic? Your comments might best be understood if viewed in that context. What concern do you have about the surrogates or the children born who are separated from their biological mother?

  2. This politicians should really re-focus their priorities if this is about protecting the rights of children. Why don’t they do something to stop ferals and drug addicts from breeding, or change the adoption laws to make it easier for good people to adopt unwanted children (instead of the current 10 year wait that it takes), or change the child safety laws so that abused children are not put back into abusive situations (the RSPCA has more rights for animals than child safety do to stop child abuse). Really, I know I am a mental health professional who works with this everyday. My only option is surrogacy due to a medical condition which means that I can’t carry my own child – I have been in a loving marriage for 12 years and I know a lot of other people in the same situation – we would make wonderful parents and because of the living hell that we have had to go through to even get to the point of considering using a surrogate, the child would be so loved and cared for. Where is there any scientifically proven evidence that a child is harmed through surrogacy – most of the time it is a win/win situation – the surrogate mother is treated like a queen and well cared for and the child is wanted and loved. I work bloody hard to pay huge taxes to the Australian and State Government to pay for the baby bonus for all the ferals out there who then don’t even spend it on their child but now the politicians want to take away from me the one thing that would make my life complete – the opportunity to be a mother with my loving husband. Wake up to yourself pollies and go and fight for a better cause such as looking after abused children properly or youth homelessness – they are the real ones at risk because al ot of them came from unfit parents who could have them freely and didn’t have to fight tooth and nail to get them. Go and do some real studies into this before making laws about things you properly don’t even really know much about.

  3. Chris Hartcher should be ashamed of himself as he is very hypercritical on this particular issue (as is many other MPs who opposed this bill)!!!!!

  4. Why is it so unusual that Hodgkinson was not lobbied. She never listens to constituents so why bother giving her an opinion

  5. Not strictly so Megan. Under operation of the Family Law Act, in the eyes of Australian law the surrogate mother and her married or de facto partner are deemed the parents of the child, even though the intending parents may be named on the birth certificate. The transfer of parentage mechanism proposed by state law only applies to local altruistic arrangements and does not apply to overseas commercial arrangements. In these overseas commercial cases the intending parents would need to apply to the Family Court for an order conferring parental responsibility upon them, which is not the transfer of parentage mechanism proposed under state law. Anecdotally, I understand that those intending parents whose names both wind up on the foreign issued birth certificate often don’t bother with any subsequent legal mechanism because the birth certificate does not say this is a surrogacy arrangement, and no-one would know any better. My view: making entering into an overseas commercial arrangement an offence is a ridiculous law as it does nothing to benefit the child, how is it going to be policed, and regardless of personal views about ethics/morality, people deperate to start a family do not care. Another example of the law being way behind the reality of what is going on in society.

  6. This is so ridiculous. How little these people know about surrogacy in Australia, much less commercial surrogacy abroad. The fact is, a baby born through commercial surrogacy in any country outside of Australia gets Australian citizenship and an Australian passport in the country in which they are born, provided a DNA test proves a genetic link. It is called Citizenship by descent and the process has been allowed forever.

    So if you go OS for commercial surrogacy, you have your name on the baby’s birth certificate, your baby has Australian citizenship and you already have parental rights under Australian law. You don’t NEED parental rights conferred by any state in Australia, you already have them!!!!

    This applies if you are single, gay, het whatever, provided you have one genetic parent, baby will be Australian. I would encourage anyone wishing to be a parent to travel abroad for surrogacy. Every single state in Australia is enacting new laws which address altruistic/non-commercial surrogacy – when for the majority of us, we can’t find a woman to carry babies for us, regardless of our gender or marital status. Yet a bunch of these clowns voted in as our voices in parliament can’t even agree to confer parentage to children already born through surrogacy.

    Australia – you are SO behind the times. Wake up!