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Monday, May 25, 2015

Baby Gammy scandal forces states to crackdown on Aussies using international ‘rent-a-womb’ services

THE baby Gammy surrogacy scandal will lead to a crackdown on Australians using international “rent-a-womb” services, with all state attorneys-general agreeing to push for consistent laws on international surrogacy to put the best interests of children first.

At a meeting on Friday, all seven attorneys-general — led by NSW Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton — agreed inconsistencies in surrogacy laws were putting children at risk.

A working group will be created for the “priority” issue to examine “whether a national legislative response to the issue of international surrogacy should be pursued, including any further work on harmonisation of surrogacy and parentage laws as they relate to international surrogacy”.

Commercial surrogacy is banned in NSW but there is nothing to stop a person moving to NSW from interstate after paying for a baby from overseas.

It is understood the attorneys-general were particularly concerned about the Northern Territory, which has no surrogacy laws even though commercial surrogacy is banned in all other states and territories.

Ms Upton said the baby Gammy case showed a further crackdown on commercial surrogacy and consistent national laws were needed to protect children.

“My fear is children are falling through gaps in the law,” she said.

“Children deserve to be raised in safe, secure and loving homes. They deserve good parents who will adore them because this gives children the best chance at better, happier life ...

“In NSW, the law puts the child’s interests front and centre. However, recent cases — including the baby Gammy case — have highlighted the lack of a consistent approach across Australia to surrogacy.”

The baby Gammy case sparked an international scandal, after a Thai surrogate accused a West Australian couple of abandoning a baby boy born with Down syndrome in Thailand, while taking his healthy twin sister home.

The father of the twins — David Farnell — is a convicted paedophile and was allowed to retain custody of the girl.

NSW, Western Australia and Victoria have two year jail terms as penalty for commercial surrogacy, in Queensland it is three years’ jail and South Australia and the ACT both have one-year jail penalties.

Despite this, the Commonwealth will often approve visas or citizenship to children born of commercial surrogacy overseas if a biological connection with an Australian parent can be proven.

Ms Upton said new consistent laws would help children above all.

“The end goal is consistent approach to international surrogacy across Australia, an approach which puts the child’s interests above all else,” she said.


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