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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Tony Abbott rules out national laws on overseas surrogacy

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has rejected calls for national laws on overseas surrogacy saying it should remain a matter for the states.

Mr Abbott on Thursday said commercial surrogacy was not an issue for the federal government after he was asked about the case of an Australian couple abandoning a surrogate baby in India in 2012, despite Australian consular officials pleading with the couple not to leave without the child.

The ABC revealed on Wednesday that a baby boy was left behind while his parents returned to Australia.

Mr Abbott said although the situation was "distressing" there was no role for the federal government in law reform.

"Surrogacy is a matter for the state governments and while I can understand the interest in this right around the country I think that there are some matters that are quite properly left to the state governments and I certainly don't intend to change the ordinary constitutional arrangements," Mr Abbott said.

The opposition has called for an inquiry into overseas commercial surrogacy.

Labor's foreign affairs spokeswoman, Tanya Plibersek, said nationally consistent laws on international surrogacy were needed.

"It is important that we have better, more nationally consistent rules relating to commercial surrogacy," Ms Plibersek said.

"Of course commercial surrogacy is banned in Australia but we know that state to state there are different applications of these laws as they relate to commercial surrogacy overseas.

"Clarity and national consistency would be beneficial…..It is very important now that we hear from the federal government what their plans are to encourage consistency in the application of state laws and to clarify the situation as it relates to commercial surrogacy arrangements overseas."

The Family Law Council looked at the situation surrounding international surrogacy last year. It found children born overseas as a result of commercial surrogacy were potentially legally vulnerable.

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