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Friday, May 8, 2015

Reality of commercial surrogacy

Following on from the highly controversial story of Baby Gammy in 2014, a recent roundtable discussion analysed the concept of commercial surrogacy.

The event, ‘Commercial Surrogacy: What Role for Law?’ was hosted by Monash University’s Faculty of Law. Facilitating the discussion were prominent Monash academics, Dr Ronli Sifris, Dr Adiva Sifris, Dr Karinne Ludlow and Associate Professor Anne-Maree Farrell.

Baby Gammy’s story gained international media attention after his biological parents left him in Thailand due to a diagnosis of Down syndrome, while his twin sister returned to Australia.

Dr Ronli Sifris said the roundtable discussion looked at the current Australian law, which prohibits commercial surrogacy, its impact, and whether reform is needed.

“The story of Baby Gammy and the subsequent media storm that followed highlighted the need for law reform when it comes to commercial surrogacy,” Dr Sifris said.

“The group was made up of interdisciplinary scholars and commentators from a variety of backgrounds and perspectives, making the discussion lively and informative.”

The group discussed that even if a woman is not being paid, it doesn’t mean she isn’t being exploited; and conversely, the involvement of money should not lead us to think surrogates are exploited.

Also looked at was the divide between those who think commercial surrogacy should be allowed and those who don’t, and the fact that regardless of our laws many Australians still use commercial surrogates overseas, prompting improvement in our laws to respond to this practice.

Attendees included experts from many academic disciplines, the legal profession, a user support group and government and regulators. Papers from the roundtable will be published in a special edition of the Journal of Law and Medicine later this year.

The event was funded by Associate Professor Farrell’s Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellowship Regulating Human Tissue Principles Institutions and Politics.


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