Allowing NSW residents to buy babies overseas will exploit the most vulnerable

Allowing NSW residents to buy babies overseas will exploit the most vulnerable

By Renate Klein

In his offensively titled ‘Equality Bill’, NSW Independent MP Alex Greenwich proposes to – among other things – circumvent the federal ban on commercial surrogacy within Australia.

As the Federal Parliament’s findings after a 2016 Inquiry pointed out: “Even with the best of regulatory intentions, there is still significant potential for the exploitation of surrogates and children to occur.”

For this reason, the criminal offences for residents in NSW to enter into commercial surrogacy arrangements overseas remained in place. Greenwich now proposes to singlehandedly do away with such prohibitions in NSW, thereby clearly allowing gay and heterosexual people to go and buy themselves a baby overseas.

His changes could encourage the exploitation and commodification of vulnerable women – particularly those from poor countries and disadvantaged backgrounds – as wombs for rent and children as products for sale.

But there is no right to a child for anyone: gay or straight.

Women are not breeders whose bodies and minds can be callously used to fulfil someone’s wish for their ‘own’ biological child. Nor should another woman be exploited as an egg ‘donor’ whose genes form one half of the future child, but whose identity will hardly ever be known to them.

Both egg extraction with powerful hormones and a pregnancy with a ‘foreign’ embryo are dangerous for so-called surrogate mothers, leading to higher pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia and placenta praevia which can be life-threatening. Drugs like Lupron, used to transfer embryos to the surrogate, have so many adverse effects that Lupron is unapproved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for purposes of pregnancy. Birth is mostly by C-section, introducing another risk factor.

Surrogacy is a human rights violation of women. And of children too.

A child removed from his or her mother at birth never asked to be a ‘take-away’ baby to, in many cases, never see their mother again or even know who she was.

And let’s not forget the babies who are abandoned after a change of mind, or because they don’t measure up to the commissioning parents’ expectations: the exact reason countries like Thailand and India have banned commercial surrogacy.

This modern-day form of human trafficking is condemned globally by women’s, children’s, and human rights defenders, as an affront to the human rights and dignity of women and children.

The recent scandal concerning a leading surrogacy clinic in Greece, from which numerous Australians have commissioned babies, and which was raided over allegations of human trafficking and fraud, provides a tragic and timely reminder of this. We should finally listen to the painful stories of donor-conceived and adopted people whose lifelong quest to find their mothers and fathers has often ended in bitter disappointment.

It is my sincere hope that NSW members of parliament follow the road of decency and vote down this misogynist bill.

Dr Renate Klein is an Australian academic and feminist health activist. She is a founder and publisher at Spinifex Press, and until 2006, was Associate Professor of Women's Studies at Deakin University. She is the author and editor of multiple books on women’s issues, including Surrogacy: A Human Rights Violation.

This article was originally published in the Daily Telegraph on 8 February 2024. Sign the petition saying NO to these harmful reforms.


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