Experts: agency to monitor overseas surrogacy not enough

THERE has been a growing groundswell of support for an inquiry to be established into national surrogacy laws with several pundits claiming the current laws are outdated.

The push comes on the back of two high-profile cases this year where parents left babies behind, in their country of birth, after an international surrogacy agreement turned sour.

Commercial surrogacy is illegal in Australia.

State and territory leaders gathered for the Council of Australian Governments meeting in Canberra committed to the establishment of a Commonwealth agency which would oversee overseas surrogacy.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Friday he expected the agency would be established next year, once the final details are worked out.

However, Law Council of Australia family law chairman Rick O'Brien said a national inquiry into international commercial surrogacy was needed.

"The society considers this to be a necessary step to ensure Australians have an opportunity to consider the complex issues raised by commercial surrogacy and its implications both within Australia and in relation to the use of international surrogacy services by Australians," he said.

"Proper consideration of the complex issues is critical to the protection of the rights and interests of vulnerable women and children."

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said he would welcome an inquiry into national surrogacy laws.

He said clarity and consistency would be beneficial, given the application of the law differed from state-to-state.

"Labor is open to a national inquiry in terms of surrogacy rules so that parents who are loving and desperate for children, children most importantly, and indeed surrogates, know what happens with this international matter," he said.

"It probably is timely for the government to have an inquiry so that there is greater certainty and that we have one set of rules applying throughout Australia."

Greens spokeswoman Senator Penny Wright said surrogacy was an area where the law had clearly failed to keep up with the practice.

"Australia's surrogacy laws vary greatly from state to state and we need to be looking at whether our local laws are pushing up demand for international surrogacy," she said.

- APN NEWSDESK.



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