Rules get tough for overseas surrogacy STEPHANIE PEATLING NATIONAL
May 9, 2010
PEOPLE using surrogate mothers in India may no longer be able to do so after the Immigration Department said it would not guarantee citizenship to babies.
India - one of the most popular destinations for couples seeking surrogacy arrangements - is changing its laws to require prospective parents to obtain a guarantee of citizenship for their child before starting the surrogacy process.
But the Immigration Department has confirmed to The Sun-Herald that it will not change its requirements for parents wanting to bring babies born through foreign surrogacy arrangements to Australia.
A spokesman said a child born overseas as a result of surrogacy would only be ''eligible for Australian citizenship by descent if at least one of the biological parents is an Australian citizen who has been legally recognised as the parent of the child''.
To obtain citizenship for babies the Department of Immigration requires DNA proof of parenthood. This cannot be given in advance of any arrangements being made.
Australia Surrogacy, a private organisation that helps people make international surrogacy arrangements, said it had recently stopped working in India, in part because citizenship requirements were too onerous.
''Some parents were able to exit the country without any trouble but other parents were stuck in India for over eight to 10 weeks,'' a spokeswoman said.
The spokeswoman said people often chose India because its surrogacy clinics were less expensive but found themselves caught up in an industry that was only starting to be regulated.
The state and federal governments have recognised the growing popularity of domestic surrogacy, with attorneys-general deciding late last week to pursue nationally consistent laws.
Law Society of NSW president Mary Macken said a uniform approach would make it easier for people to enter into domestic agreements and not be forced overseas.
''There is currently much confusion within Australia as each state and territory mostly has different surrogacy laws,'' Ms Macken said.
''More importantly, it is preferable to have uniform surrogacy laws in Australia in order to provide for a safe clinical environment so commissioning parents who may become frustrated with the inadequate Australia state laws are not tempted to travel overseas and enter into a commercial surrogacy.''
Commercial surrogacy remains illegal but people are able to make ''reasonable payments'' to a surrogate mother who volunteers to carry a baby.
NSW will proceed with laws that would allow the courts to recognise couples as the parents of surrogate babies if the court believes the arrangement is in the child's best interest.
Everyone involved in the arrangement would have to undergo counselling and prove the arrangement was in place before the baby was conceived.
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald