What is surrogacy in assisted reproduction?
Surrogacy is an arrangement where a woman carries a baby in her womb, with the intention of gibing birth to this baby on behalf of another woman or couple. The woman who carries the child is known as the surrogate and the other person or couple is referred to as the intended parents or commissioning couple.
What are the types of surrogacy?
The type of surrogacy depends on the origin of the egg and sperm used to form the embryo. In gestational surrogacy, common in Australia and New Zealand, the surrogate does not contribute her egg to form the embryo and has no genetic relationship with the child. In traditional surrogacy, pregnancy is achieved using the surrogate’s egg.
What are the common reasons for surrogacy in Australia/New Zealand?
Reasons why women or couples opt for surrogacy include:
- Absence or removal of ovaries
- An unhealthy uterus (Asherman’s Syndrome)
- A structurally abnormal uterus
- A health condition such as heart disease or kidney disease that makes pregnancy too dangerous for the mother
- Multiple failed pregnancies or IVF attempts
What are the laws concerning surrogacy?
In Australia, surrogacy is not covered by health insurance. The laws regarding surrogacy vary in different states and territories. Generally, the surrogate must be at least 25 years old. Surrogacy should be purely altruistic and the surrogate cannot receive or demand a fee. Certain states allow only a heterosexual couple to be the intended parents.
What kind of agreement do the intended parents make with the surrogate?
The surrogate and intended parents make an official agreement called a pre-birth parenting order before the pregnancy or by the 20th week of gestation, after which the intended parents have legal rights and responsibility for the child. They can choose to terminate the pregnancy should any congenital anomalies be present or for other reasons. A surrogacy agreement may be drawn up to ensure that the intended parents bear the pregnancy costs. The surrogate has the right to terminate the pregnancy if it threatens her life. To get legal rights over the child, the intended parents will have to file for a parentage order in the family court system.
Can I have a commercial surrogacy arrangement overseas?
Having an overseas commercial surrogacy is a punishable offence in New South Wales, Queensland and ACT. Although other states allow it, you are advised to be cautious and familiarize yourself with the legal as well as medical procedures overseas which may pose certain risks.
How can a CREI help with the process?
A CREI or Certified Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility specialist knows the current legislation in your state/territory in Australia and New Zealand and can advise you accordingly.
A CREI can refer you on to fertility counsellors and lawyers familiar with local and international surrogacy laws and regulations.
A CREI is fully qualified in all aspects of an ART IVF cycle and can guide you and the surrogate in the medical aspects of surrogacy.
Medical and scientific information provided and endorsed by the Australian and New Zealand Society of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility (ANZSREI) might not be relevant to a particular person’s circumstances and should always be discussed with that person’s own healthcare provider. Patient Information Sheets may contain copyright or otherwise protected material. Reproduction of Information Sheets by ANZSREI Members for clinical practice is permissible. Any other use of this information (hardcopy and electronic versions) must be agreed to and approved by the ANZSREI.
Disclaimer: All information presented on this page is intended for informational purposes only and not for rendering medical advice. The information contained herein is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.