1. Surrogacy constitutes a human rights violation of the women and children involved. It commodifies children and exploits women.
2. It creates demand for a ‘perfect baby’, and selective abortion of unwanted babies (the ‘products’) is eugenics in action.
3. Women carrying surrogate babies face high risk health risks i.e. cervical cancer and ovarian cancer hyper stimulation of eggs (see more information below).
4. It may result in an increased risk of pre-mature births or children with special needs.
5. Altruistic surrogacy heralds the “choice” of the donor mother, but the baby has no choice except to be separated from their birth mother.
6. Large scale studies by Dr Paul Sullins (2016) and Dr Mark Regnerus (2012) cast strong doubt on claims of no differences between same-sex parents and opposite-sex parents. ‘No difference’ studies are based on small, non-random samples, which generally ensure a no difference result.
7. Government data shows no single female has applied for surrogacy in WA since legalised in 2008. Instead of allowing surrogacy for single men, surrogacy for single people should be removed.
8. Children need and deserve a mother and father.
You could remind MPs that a convicted child sex offender in WA ordered a child via surrogacy in Thailand. His sperm donation became twin children, a girl and ‘Baby Gammy’, a boy with Down syndrome who was abandoned by his father. Thanks to the bravery of his birthmother, Chanbua Pattharamon, Gammy is now living a happy life in Thailand, whereas his twin sister Pipah was ordered by an Australian judge to live with her ‘father’ and his wife in Western Australia. This 2014 case ended commercial surrogacy in Thailand, but the exchange of money was not material to the tragedy of the case.
Why Oppose Surrogacy?
Stop Surrogacy Now is a resounding ‘No!’ Whether for love or for money, the fact remains that surrogacy is the commissioning of a baby by affluent heterosexual or homosexual couples using a woman of usually lower economic standing as a baby incubator - a breeder.
Surrogacy is dangerous
The surrogate mother - often callously called a “gestational carrier” - is required to submit to a three to four week drug regimen in order to prepare her womb for pregnancy. These drugs can make her very sick, possibly with long-term effects.
In addition to the battery of prenatal tests she must undergo, there is also the risk of pregnancy complications - including ovarian torsion, ovarian cysts, chronic pelvic pain, premature menopause, loss of fertility, reproductive cancers, blood clots, kidney disease, stroke and, in some cases, death.
Women who become pregnant with eggs from another woman are at higher risk for pre-eclampsia and high blood pressure. The health risks are even worse for women who donate eggs, with the increased prevalence of Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) and ovarian cancer many years later. (I’d commend the eye-opening documentary Eggsploitation for stories of women hurt by egg donation.)
What is demanded of a surrogate mother is the manufacture of a perfect baby - this is eugenics in action. If the product is deemed flawed, she will be pressured to consent to an abortion, selective reduction or foetal surgery in the womb.
At birth, the baby is most often removed by caesarean section, with the birth mother frequently not given the chance to see her child. What is left is a woman with milk in her breasts but nothing in her arms. The attention that for nine months had been lavished on the woman - who is called a hero, an angel, a giver of life by the commissioning couple in an altruistic surrogacy arrangement - in the great majority of cases disappears very quickly. Once the job is done, and the baby handed over, the birth mother, in whose body remain cells of her child for decades, is left to her own devices.
Many surrogate mothers say it was their “choice.” What sort of choice is it when one cannot predict the effect of the drugs, the pregnancy and the birth on the woman? And what sort of choice is it for the baby? Did she or he really “choose” to be separated from their birth mother?
Surrogacy is reproductive slavery; a violation of the human rights of both the birth mother and her offspring.
Compared to the United States, India, Ukraine and Mexico, Australia is still in the fortunate position of prohibiting commercial surrogacy, and altruistic surrogacy is well regulated in all states except the Northern Territory which has no laws. Moreover, the actual number of babies born through altruistic surrogacy arrangements is negligible.
The National Perinatal Epidemiology and Statistics Unit (NPESU) publishes yearly reports that include data supplied by 37 fertility centres in Australia and New Zealand. The latest available 2011 and 2012 reports state: “There were 177 gestational surrogacy cycles in 2011, including 131 gestational carrier cycles and 46 cycles undertaken by intended parents. Among the 131 gestational carrier cycles, 34 (26.0%) resulted in a clinical pregnancy and 21 (16.0%) resulted in a delivery. Of all 23 babies born to gestational carriers (21 singletons and one set of twins), 22 were liveborn and one singleton’s outcome was unknown.”
Would this change if Australia legalised commercial surrogacy in future? Perhaps unemployed women might think that $30-40,000 is worth the risk and discomfort of pregnancy; or that they could always resort to selling their eggs four, five, six times for $5,000 per batch. For the commissioning parents - euphemistically called “intended parents” - the price would be much higher because the surrogacy industry’s lawyers, counsellors, surrogacy brokers and, last but not least, the IVF clinics who delight in this new business opportunity, would all demand their share. The government too might be eager to collect taxes from the various players involved in commercial surrogacy - surrogates and egg donors included. A $100,000 price tag for a baby can easily be countenanced. And because of the high failure rates, repeat pregnancies make the procedure harder for the birth mother and more expensive for the buyers.
It was only in 2013 that then Prime Minister Julia Gillard delivered a heartfelt apology to mothers and their children who were forcibly removed for adoption in the 1960s and 70s. We would do well to remember the trauma and depth of feeling this apology elicited in discussions about surrogacy, which is the intentional removal of a child from his or her birth mother. Do we really want to find ourselves in the position forty years hence of having to deliver yet another apology to children who were harmed by surrogacy.
The first order of business would be to lower the demand for all forms of surrogacy, including so-called altruistic surrogacy. There is no right to a child. A deep desire for a child does not justify the narcissistic exploitation of another woman’s body and soul, as well as her health - two women, in fact, if an egg donor is also needed.
People who long for children should be encouraged to look to permanent care arrangements for the thousands of existing children in Australia who need a loving home. Having a baby with your own genes is not a prerequisite: it is love and dedication that counts.
Children are not commodities to be bought and sold, and women are not containers to be used as baby makers and then discarded. Let’s stop surrogacy now.