Sunday, 14 February 2010

Queensland Surrogacy Laws:round 2: the Government version

Here are some comments from the Government side of the debate:

 
Premier Anna Bligh

 
  • I have yet to hear a single cogent justification why same-sex couples or single people should be legally able to access medical artificial insemination or IVF but not surrogacy. All of these technologies use similar procedures.
  • Under the [Opposition] bill ... if it were passed we would end up with an absurd situation. It would mean that a single woman or a woman in a same-sex relationship with a perfectly functioning uterus could form a family through either artificial insemination or IVF. That is happening now. It is legal. Nothing will change. However, a single woman or a woman in a same-sex relationship who ...  has some clinical reason why her uterus is either not intact or not healthy and functioning would be denied this particular form of technology.
  • In my view there is no policy rationale why single women and people in same-sex relationships
    can access that form of assisted reproductive technology but not this form. In fact, if those who oppose these parts of the bill have these sorts of objections, in all honesty they should come back into this parliament and introduce a bill to remove the discretion that doctors currently have to provide fertility treatment to people who are single or in same-sex relationships. I note that to date they have not done so, nor have they put forward any reason why some forms of technology should allow single people and same-sex couples to have a family but not other forms of technology.
  • Surrogacy arrangements will happen whether the law allows for the transfer of parentage or not,
    just as women in same-sex relationships will have children whether the law allows for both same-sex
    parents to be listed on the birth certificate or not. The first question that we face in putting together a
    regulatory framework is: who should be allowed? As I have outlined, I do not think there is any sound
    basis for ruling out people on the basis of their particular relationship circumstances. The second
    question is: if we go down the path of decriminalising surrogacy how do we then ensure adequate legal
    status for the children who are born in these sorts of arrangements? We have to make sure that our
    laws keep pace with technology and we have to recognise the legal position of the children who are born through these technologies.
  • Queensland children deserve equality with their counterparts in a number of other states who,
    regardless of the circumstances of their birth, have the same legal rights whether they are born through
    natural conception, IVF, assisted reproductive technology or surrogacy arrangements and regardless of the parental relationships of their family. In Queensland right now children are being raised in loving and supportive families that simply are not being recognised by the law. It is the children in these families who are disadvantaged. It is the children in these families whose birth certificates are not a true
    reflection of their lives. They are not a reflection of who makes decisions about these children. They are not a reflection of who decides which schools these children attend, where these children will get
    medical treatment, who consents to their surgery, who makes their lunches and who reads them stories
    every day. Ask those children who their parents are and they will tell you. It may not be an answer that you want to hear, but they know the two people in their home who are bringing them up every day are their parents. If the birth certificate is not changed to allow the people who are actually raising the child to be recognised in law, it leaves these decisions under a cloud of uncertainty and it leaves them open to challenge. We need to make sure that that is not the case for these children.
  • If the Deputy Leader of the Opposition’s bill were passed by this
    parliament, Queensland would be the only state in Australia that would prohibit single people from
    accessing surrogacy arrangements or discriminate against people on the basis of same-sex
    relationships. I do not believe that we have yet seen one argument put forward in this parliament about
    why these arrangements can be entered into as soon as you go to Tweed Heads but not here.
Deputy Premier Paul Lucas
  • Some of the comments of some of the members here are an
    appalling reflection on them, their intellect and values. They do not stand scrutiny today let alone in the
    harsher light of history that will illuminate them in decades to come.
  • Homosexuality was not dreamt up by a crowd of trendies in San Francisco in the 1970s. It existed

  • in biblical times. So did child abuse.
  • Customary surrogacy has gone on in the Torres Strait since the Torres Strait Islanders first settled there.
  • Customary surrogacy has gone on in the Torres Strait since the Torres Strait Islanders first settled there.
  • The reality is that, if we do not deal with same-sex or single-parent surrogacy, it will still take place
    as it has in the past, but there will be a consequence if we do not.
  • As an adopted child with no father on my original birth certificate, I would have been deemed illegitimate. In the past, that would have meant legal consequences flowed, restricting ownership of property, inheritances and the like. This is what took place in the days before the Status of Children Act. So we are prepared to condemn children born of same-sex or single-parent relationships to the stigma that others will not have. Why? Because of the sexual preference of their parents or because there is one parent, even if that sole parent is assessed as being appropriate for surrogacy.
  • In surrogacy, we are talking about prospective parents who are screened to high heaven and
    have often gone through painful and heartbreaking fertility treatments on the way through. These are
    surely among the most wanted and loved children of all.
  • It is harder to get a driver’s licence than it is for people to have a child—except, that is, if it is an adopted or surrogate child.
Andrew Fraser, Treasurer

  • you can no more command the tide than stop the birth of children in the circumstances contemplated by this bill.
  • There is nothing second class about any child I have ever met.
  • Is there a member on the other side of the House with at least the decency to walk in here and
    enjoin the debate to deplore and decry that which has been said by the knuckle draggers like the
    member for Condamine and the member for Burnett? We recognise that they have all been told to toe
    the line. So much for free thinking.
  • But what is even more cowardly in this debate than their failure to vote against, to stand up for the
    individual rights of children who have no say in the manner of their entry into this world, is their failure to walk in here and at least separate themselves from the comments that are today bringing us national
    condemnation. By their silence they embrace the vile idiocy that will forever stain the Hansard of this
    parliament. By their silence they condone the bigotry being peddled. Most shamefully, by their inaction
    they condemn children to being second-class citizens. By their craven cynicism they are tearing out the
    heart of a tradition of liberalism that has freed the slaves and advanced the cause of freedom for
    centuries.
Parliamentary Secretary Peta-Kaye Croft
  • The arguments presented by opposition members
    are really not about the methods by which someone becomes a parent; they are about who should be
    parents regardless of how they become parents. The arguments presented by those opposite to the
    government’s bill are centred around moral views about people’s relationships, no matter how much
    they try to disguise their moral views by referring to so-called research that concludes that a child is best raised by a mother and a father together.
  • A same-sex couple having a child does not harm anyone.
  • I believe that a child growing up in a same-sex family that was loving, genuine and committed would be far better off than a child living in a destructive, violent, cold and unloving heterosexual relationship.
Christine Smith- Burleigh
  • Children have the right to two parents. They have the right to equal protection under the law.

  • These rights exist regardless of their parents’ sexual orientation, their parents’ marital status, religion,lifestyle or any other factor that has come up for discussion. Surrogacy is not new. Same-sex couples raising children together is not new. These arrangements and families currently exist in Queensland but, as things stand, they live without the protection of the law.

  • The important thing is that children are loved and feel safe in their homes with the people who make up their families. For me it is not important what gender those people are nor what their sexual orientation is. It is none of my business and it is not the business of this parliament to dictate how people live their lives.
Steve Kilburn - Chatsworth

 
  • If you ask any child whether they would like to have
    two loving parents, whether they be male or female, or a single parent who loves them and treats them
    with respect or whether they would like to be part of a family where their father comes home drunk and flogs mum every night, I think they will take the same-sex couple or the single parent every time.
  • It saddens me that there are still people in our community who are intolerant of the lifestyles
    of other members, not because of anything that those people have done but because they are simply
    opposed to anything but their own view on how society should be.
  • There is good evidence of equal or more positive outcomes for children with non-biological parents, same-sex parents and surrogate arrangements in child emotional, social and psychological development and in parenting styles and family functioning.
  • Having made a deliberate choice to have children, [same sex] parents are providing an effective and loving environment and equipping their children with the skills to build resilience. They are also imbuing their children with the value of acceptance. In this way, parents and their children are positively contributing to our pluralist society.
  • More than 25 years of research has documented that there is no relationship between parents’ sexual orientation and any measure of a child’s emotional, psychosocial and behavioural adjustment. This data has demonstrated no risk to children as a result of growing up in a family with one or more gay parents. No research supports the widely held conviction that the gender of parents matters for child wellbeing. If gay, lesbian or bisexual parents were inherently less capable than otherwise comparable heterosexual parents, their children would evidence problems regardless of the type of sample. This pattern clearly has not been observed.
  • Let us talk about deceit. Let us talk about someone [he is referring to Lawrence Springborg]  turning up at a lunch put on in this place for the lesbian and gay community, who pretends to be friends of the lesbian and gay community, who stands up and talks about how he supports them and how valuable they are and then neaks away to a room and writes a bill to make it illegal for them to have children. That is deceit and that is disgusting behaviour from someone in this House. He should be ashamed of himself.
Paul Hoolihan, Keppel

  •  Misogyny and misandry are alive and well and living in Queensland.
  • I do not believe that we as a legislature have a right to tell
    people how to live their lives.
Steve Wettenhall, Barron River
  • The vast majority of
    those children come from what might be considered traditional families made up of a mother and father. 
  • A so-called traditional family does not guarantee a healthy, happy and safe home environment for children.
  • Fundamentally, I do not believe that this parliament has any legitimate
    role in dictating who may or may not start a family and raise a child in this state, because in the context
    of altruistic surrogacy arrangements there is not one scrap of credible evidence that children conceived
    and raised in this way are in any way harmed or at risk of harm, nor is there one scrap of credible
    evidence that such arrangements in any way, shape or form harm society. I believe this to be the case
    regardless of whether the family is made up of a mother and father, a single mother or father, or a samesex couple.
Lindy Nelson-Carr, Mundingburra
  • All the arguments against surrogacy
    with respect to same-sex parents lends no credence to the wellbeing of the child living within that
    relationship.
  • The concepts of liberty, equality, relationship and care are the priority values, and they all impact
    on the rights of the child.
  • Families can and do exist in many nonconforming and/or alternative ways.
  • I am pleased to add my support to the government
    by placing my conscience on the record in support of the rights of a child to live safely in a loving and
    caring environment where communication, love and support prevail.
Annastacia Palaszczuk, Minister for  Disability Services and Multicultural Affairs
  • We have heard some,quite frankly, ludicrous and ill-informed criticisms and opinions from the opposition. Some members opposite have expressed rigid and outdated views about what constitutes a family in the modern day. Times have changed and we need to change with them. Today there is much wider community acceptance that families can take on a variety of forms. This reform will bring Queensland into line with other Australian jurisdictions that have regulated altruistic surrogacy. Despite the doom and gloom we have heard from the opposition on this issue, the ACT, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia all have this option available to people.
  • People will not
    make these sorts of decisions lightly but will think long and hard before entering into a surrogacy
    arrangement. This bill is not going to open the floodgates.
Mandy Johnstone, Townsville
  • There is
    insurmountable evidence that, tragically, for some children the traditional family unit is not always the
    safe and nurturing environment it should be but can occasionally be dangerous and dysfunctional.
  • Last March, during the election campaign, I held several street-corner meetings. At one of these
    meetings I met Sharon Isle. Sharon has given me permission to share her journey to parenthood.
    Sharon and her partner—a woman—are in a long-term, committed relationship. Like many people in
    their situation, they reached a point in their relationship where they decided to start a family. They made a planned and deliberate decision to bring a child into the world. They based this decision on the
    stability of their relationship and their economic ability to provide all the things that a child needs. As
    Sharon said to me, ‘Our family was created by choice.’

     
    Because of the legal complexities that exist because they are in a same-sex relationship, there
    were other considerations that Sharon and her partner undertook in order to ensure that their son’s
    future holds the same certainty that other children have. They have gone to the Family Court and
    obtained a parenting order which ensures that Sharon, as the non-biological parent of their son, is
    legally bound to be economically responsible for him into the future. They have added specific and
    special clauses to their wills. They have established family trusts and they have sought specialist legal
    advice which will allow future certainty for their son in a range of areas including inheritance.
    Sharon reminded me that this government bill is about responsibility towards that child; it is not
    about the parents. Sharon and her partner could have relocated to her home state of Western Australia to have their child and take advantage of the fact that Western Australia already has these laws in place. They chose not to because they are established in Townsville and that is their home. So they have taken these other measures that I have just described. I will at this point put on the record my gratitude andthanks to Sharon for allowing me to share her very personal story with the parliament tonight.
  • Why is a child who has been born in a planned pregnancy in a traditional family any less of a commodity than a child who is planned for and born through a surrogate birth mother?
  • There are many important ingredients to a good childhood but being loved is the most important
    one. If a person goes to the lengths required to find a surrogate mother and convince her that they
    would make good parents and if they then convince the court to grant a parentage order, it is very likely that they truly want that child.
Dean Wells, Murrumba
  • From time to time an issue comes before the
    parliament that requires legislators to remember the fundamental principles of a free democracy. This is
    such an issue.
  • To ban altruistic surrogacy is to arrogate to government the right to eliminate people from the gene pool.
  • You step into murky waters when you accept that a government, any government, at any time has the right to say to some of its citizens, ‘You are allowed to have children’ and to others, ‘But you are not’.
  • To legislatively eliminate people from the gene pool is actually a form of eugenics.
  • When we turn to the opposition’s surrogacy bill, we enter a nether world in which surrogacy is
    available to you, but only if you are what the LNP regards as the right sort of person.
  • Altruistic surrogacy is not an activity that society has any business limiting, because nobody is harmed by it; not the biological parents who will achieve their objective of real parenthood, not the surrogate mother who will be performing the ultimate labour of love and most certainly not the baby since his or her alternative was never to exist at all. I note there is broad support across the chamber to legalise surrogacy and it is an honour to join those who have already spoken in support of the legalisation of surrogacy.
  • The reality is that people who are prepared to go through the medical interventions, the processes and the organisational tasks involved in surrogacy are actually people who are very likely to make good parents.
  • We cannot govern the wind, we cannot administer the tides and we should not try to control human procreation.
Jan Jarratt, Whitsunday
  • Single-parent and
    same-sex families already exist in our communities and there is no evidence that I am aware of that the
    children in these families are less likely to be loved than if they were in a traditional heterosexual family.
Desley Scott, Woodridge
  • Surrogacy will not be a procedure that couples or individuals will enter into without a great deal of
    thought and planning.
Carolyn Male, Pine Rivers
  • I have had several constituents who have likened the issue of surrogacy to treating children as
    pets. Nothing could be further from the truth. Unlike children who are born of ‘accidents’ or because that is what ‘usually happens’, children born of surrogacy arrangements are well planned for and loved.
  • LNP members have reminded us all that some Queenslanders have not progressed too far at all. If they ever take over the running of the state, people will be quite justified in
    calling Queensland the home of rednecks once more.
  • (On Lawrence Springborg): Not only did he attend the community engagement barbecue for
    the gay and lesbian community, he was one of the last people to leave. The people I spoke to who
    attended did not hear the member say once that he was happy to talk to them but was never going to
    give them the chance to be parents. What a hypocrite. It is obvious that you only have to scratch the
    surface slightly to reveal the true redneck below.
  • The LNP thinks there is something genetically wrong with homosexuals, that somehow they are
    not complete human beings. I would remind them that all homosexual people had a biological mother
    and a biological father, but that has not affected their sexual preferences.
  • The type of backward thinking displayed by all speakers from the LNP in this debate just astounds me. It makes me wonder how the LNP can stand being near homosexuals. It also makes me
    wonder why a gay person would ever work for the LNP because the views expressed by LNP
    representatives must make them shudder. The LNP is basically saying, ‘Look, you can work for us, but we are not going to give you the same rights because there is something fundamentally wrong with you. You can do all our legwork but because of your sexuality, you are a deficient human being, unable to care for or nurture another person.’
Mark Ryan, Morayfield
  • My vision for Queensland is that together we can continue to build open,
    tolerant, supportive, understanding and compassionate communities where we together promote a
    normalisation agenda to ensure that all Queenslanders—all people—are treated equally, irrespective of their marital status, sexuality, race or religion and where we together support children equally,
    irrespective of the circumstances of that child’s birth or the nature of their family structure.
  • This bill ensures that all children born in Queensland enjoy the same status, support and protection, irrespective of the relationship status or sexual orientation of the child’s parents.
Kerry Shine, Toowoomba North

  • The only other issue (aside from surrogacy) approaching that level of interest in my electorate has been the issue of a brothel which has been established there.
  • It occurs to me that the...burdens that we will be placing on these children will make
    it desirable that they have access to counselling...at no cost to the child.

  • I support this bill because I do not believe that the law should be designed, as is the bill proposed
    by those opposite, to discriminate against particular individuals in this state, and nor do I believe that it
    should be designed to create a second class of children as a result. Faith in our lives must be allowed
    the room to grow and to breathe. It is not nurtured when the faith or hopes or desires of others are stifled under the guise that they threaten our own. The law should be a shelter for all beliefs and lifestyles in this way. While I may have no personal need nor desire to seek its protection, my responsibility as a member of this place is to ensure that that protection is not selectively denied to my neighbour.
Dianne Farmer, Bulimba
  • Whatever else anyone
    might say about people who are seeking altruistic surrogacy arrangements, regardless of whether they
    are single or in a heterosexual or same-sex relationship, to go through what they must go through that
    person really, really, really wants that child.
Barbara Stone, Springwood

  • A young child accepts their family no matter what the structure.
  • A family contains
    people who love you, keep you safe, who are there for the good times and the bad, help you through the sad times and laugh with you during the happy times. That is what defines a family, not its structure.
Evan Moorhead, Waterford
  • The committee heard a range of numbers about
    how many families would actually avail themselves of this technology. The evidence was that it might be up to 50, but in other states where it exists it has been between six and 12.
  • This is not some left-wing conspiracy. This is about the reality of who cares for children in our community now. There are single-parent families which, I must say by definition, are same-sex families. There are samesex families already providing care and development and nurturing home environments for children. There are blended families where, with relationship breakdown and relationships coming together, people might bring families together.
  • The research presented to the 2008 committee and by mainstream professional groups shows that
    developmental outcomes for the child do not depend on the nature of their birth but the nature of their
    care.
Grace Grace, Brisbane Central
  • It is impossible to determine who will or will not be a good parent. Parenting is as
    individual as we all are, and we should not be stereotyping any children coming from the many forms of families. Of course ideally we would love to have a situation where there is a mother and a father and a loving and caring relationship. But we all know that the reality is that that is not the case in every single circumstance. Let us not bury our heads in the sand in regard to this issue. There are widows and widowers, single parents, divorced parents, step-parents and many parents who I know today in the LGBT community. Good parenting, we all know, is much more than just having kids.
  • I do not believe that the state should be in the business of telling people who should or should not
    have a child but it should be in the business of regulating to ensure the protection of children.
  • I do not believe that it is appropriate for Government to impose restrictions based on marital status, gender, sexual orientation or methods of conception and to class certain members of our community as unfit to become parents when I know many who are already wonderful, loving parents and more than able to successfully raise a family. For those who make moral judgements about what is largely people’s own business—harming no-one and who love and feel just like everyone else—they should open their eyes and not let their narrow-minded view of what is ideal cloud reality.
  • This was an issue that was raised at the community engagement function hosted by me for the



    LGBT community in October last year to which all members of parliament were invited. I want to correct the member for Gympie, who said that there were more members of the LNP there than the ALP. That is simply not true. Unlike him, I kept a list and that is simply not the case. May I also add that I probably would not have been able to hold such a function 20 years ago, because 20 years ago homosexuality was illegal. It was a Labor government that legalised that practice and it is a Labor government that has a proud history in this area.
    Present at that function were couples with children. There was a little child running around, and I
    knew—you felt it—they were being raised in a loving environment. Here we have members on the other side of the House attending that function and they were as transparent as plastic. Yesterday the
    member for Southern Downs in the debate at 5.30 pm used words against the Premier such as ‘deceit’, ‘betrayal’ and ‘mistrust’. I throw those words back at the member for Southern Downs. While LNP members were all there, rubbing shoulders with that community, desperately trying to win their vote, pretending to be on their side, they were concocting a plan against them while trying to embrace them as if they were a part of that community. They will see through them, they will not be fooled and they will not accept the position that those on the other side are taking today.
  • I personally paid the price for the illegality that exists today. I am very proud to be part of correcting that injustice.

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