My apologies. This site has been unattended while I have been off work having awfully cute babies…well just one baby plus one other who probably wouldn’t like being called a baby any more.
There has been so much going on in the area of same-sex parenting in the past months, I don’t know where to start… Surrogacy comes to mind as a topic around which media debate has been raging. For a while, options for Australians to access surrogacy services overseas expanded as commercial surrogacy markets grew in both India and Thailand. However, India has now amended their laws to restrict access to surrogacy services to legally married couples. While, Thailand has cracked down on international surrogacy in the wake of the baby Gammy saga.
This has sparked a complex and fascinating debate about the ethics of commercial surrogacy, and whether it should be legalised in Australia.
On the ‘no’ side of the fence, many feel surrogacy amounts to nothing more than cash for babies. While others argue that the emotional and physical stress which potentially (perhaps inevitably) comes with carrying a child for another person is unacceptable; commercial surrogacy of any kind should be banned because it is vulnerable women who will most likely be drawn into it. The no argument also draws on the rights of the child. Surrogacy, it is felt, inevitably violates the rights of children to have some connection with their genetic parentage.
On the ‘yes’ side, people argue that surrogacy provides an important option for infertile or same-sex couples to become parents and that not all women who chose to be surrogates are vulnerable. In fact, some women find being a surrogate an immensely rich and rewarding experience. Others argue that allowing a well-regulated commercial surrogacy industry in developed countries such as Australia is the best way to undermine the international market. This will provide better protection to children born via surrogacy, including ensuring information about their surrogate and genetic parentage is traceable. It will also protect vulnerable women in developing countries who are currently becoming surrogates in an environment that often offers only limited protection and care.
This is a debate worth watching. A complexity of issues relating to gender and women's bodies and genetics (see for example Damien Riggs' piece on concepts of what's 'natural' that underpin the debate) -- not to mention poverty and globalisation and the rights of children -- are drawn into a space that is intensely personal and emotional for so many people. I will write more soon.
In other news...
The Work, Love, Play study is drawing to a close (see previous posts for details of this). Over the next 12-months we will continue to publish findings from the study. The following papers and resources are available now: