Gay couple win 'surrogate twins' parenting case in Australia
Progress Educational Trust11 February 2011
An Australian gay couple who entered into a paid surrogacy arrangement has won a legal battle to acquire full paternity rights for the non-genetic father.
The couple's twin daughters were born to an Indian woman using anonymously donatedeggs and sperm from one of the men. The surrogate gave birth to the girls in Mumbai after which they were taken to the couple's home in Melbourne.
In the judgment of the Melbourne Family Court, Justice Cronin stated that: 'As a matter of law, the word 'parent' tends to suggest some biological connection, but… biology does not really matter; it is all about parental responsibility'.
Three parenting orders were made in relation to international surrogacy cases last year but this is the first in connection with a gay couple. The case may represent an important precedent as growing interest in international surrogacy arrangements has led experts to predict that up to 350 surrogate-born children will be brought into Australia in 2011.
The cost of surrogacy to hopeful parents varies by location of the surrogate mother. In India, a surrogate arrangement may cost around £16,000, said Sam Everingham of Australian Families Through Gestational Surrogacy, a support group. This is around half the cost of an arrangement with a Thai mother and a fraction of the cost of one with a US mother, who can expect to receive up to £100,000, Mr Everingham said.
Opposition to international surrogacy arrangements has led the State Parliament in New South Wales to pass an 'altruistic surrogacy law' which prohibits residents from travelling overseas to enter into commercial surrogacy arrangements, which are not allowed under Australian law.
Under the new state law, which comes into force in March, international commercial surrogacy is punishable by a fine of up to £70,000, two years imprisonment and may block of the kind of parental recognition endorsed by the Melbourne Family Court.
Reproduced with permission from BioNews, an email and online sources of news, information and comment on assisted reproduction and genetics.