Monday, 4 August 2008

NSW Attorney General John Hatzistergos has announced he has commissioned an in-depth review of surrogacy laws in light of a proposed national model.

Mr Hatzistergos said the potential for uniform surrogacy laws throughout the country was examined by the Standing Committee of Attorneys General (SCAG) meeting last week.

“SCAG, together with the Ministerial Councils for Community Services and Health, is working on a consultation paper proposing a national model for altruistic surrogacy laws,” Mr Hatzistergos said.

“It is anticipated to be released in the near future.”

“I will now be asking the NSW Legislative Council Standing Committee on Law and Justice to conduct a full review and report on the issues and this process will allow stakeholders to contribute their thoughts.”

“Laws in different States and Territories are complex and inconsistent, often forcing prospective parents to cross state lines to have children via surrogacy. NSW law bans commercial surrogacy but leaves altruistic surrogacy unregulated.”

“This is an extremely sensitive area, requiring some difficult moral and ethical issues to be resolved.”

“In any new surrogacy law it is important that the first and foremost consideration should be the interests of the child,” he said.

The terms of reference for the Standing Committee include:

Whether the intended parents and surrogate mother should have to meet any criteria before entering into a surrogacy arrangement
The legislative amendments needed to clarify the legal status of the child
The rights of a surrogate child to access information about their genetic parentage, and
What role the government should play in regulating surrogacy arrangements.

“Another important issue that needs to be considered is whether surrogate mothers should receive reimbursement for reasonable expenses from the commissioning parents, such as hospital fees and medical costs, even though commercial surrogacy will not be allowed,” said Mr Hatzistergos.

Some of the most pressing issues in this area include the content of birth certificates, surrogacy for same sex couples and how to deal with situations where the surrogate mother does not wish to relinquish the child.

Other states have already undertaken reviews of their surrogacy laws, including current inquiries by Committees of the Tasmanian and Queensland Parliaments, inquiries into Bills presented to the Western Australian Parliament in 2007 and the South Australian Parliament in 2006, and the Victorian Law Reform Commission’s Report on Assisted Reproductive Technology and Adoption (June 2007) which deals with surrogacy in the context of ART.

Source: Ministerial Media Release

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