Imagine if I told you that a law had been passed specifically to allow the following circumstance:
Adam and Kirsty are shacked up together but neither is prepared to commit to any long-lasting relationship, let alone sign up “’til death do us part”.
Adam is a journalist and Kirsty is a social worker. They both desire a child, but Kirsty doesn’t want stretch marks and has work travel commitments over the next few months anyway. Luckily, she also knows a doctor that is prepared to certify that pregnancy would severely impact her health.
They both know another nice couple. John is divorced and married to his second wife, Faye. Faye has a social conscience and has agreed to hand over some of her eggs.
Adam and Kirsty also peruse through a catalogue and settle on a caring man called Steve. He has blonde hair, blue eyes, is a non-smoking vegetarian and says that he is a law graduate who likes helping disadvantaged women in Vietnam.
He’s kindly left a deposit in a plastic bag in a freezer in some sperm bank for all and sundry to use.
Negotiations go well, the lawyers and counsellors are satisfied and all parties sign up to a non-enforceable surrogacy arrangement.
Faye’s eggs are mixed with Steve’s sperm and a number of embryos are created. Some are destroyed, some are frozen and some are implanted in the womb of Adam and Kirsty’s old next door neighbour, Sally.
Sally moved away some time ago and now lives in a polyamorus relationship with another woman and two blokes. Her primary partner is Chris, a fitness instructor at the local gym. Life is pretty good and she wants to “give” something back to “society” but doesn’t want the “responsibility” of raising a child.
It’s agreed that Sally will have the kid and Adam and Kirsty will take it home from hospital.
Ok, you can stop imagining for a second. You probably wanted to get out of that nightmare anyway.
Unfortunately, you’re about to get a dose of brutal reality.
That’s because Queensland has passed a law that specifically allows the above scenario. Apparently it’s what our politicians think is a productive use of their taxpayer funded salaries.
And before you start getting all political on me and move to bang on the “It’s all Labor’s fault” button, step back and accept the truth.
The first party to introduce surrogacy laws into Queensland Parliament was the LNP. That stands for Liberal National Party. And they must have thought it was bloody important because they did it from opposition. And in the whole of 2009 they could only manage to propose seven bills. It was one of them.
Finally, just like their compadres in Victoria, who have turned a blind eye to the worst abortion laws in the Western World, this bunch have been in government for half a term and still ignored this little problem.
There really is no difference whatsoever between the Emily’s List Labor politicians and the nice pro-life guys on the other side. Labor legalises immorality and the Liberals make it mainstream.
Anyway, back to our daydream.
Before too long, Sally’s glowing with the good news that twins are on the way.
This wasn’t expected and did not form part of the non-enforceable surrogacy arrangement.
Now, if you don’t believe me that a government would create a non-enforceable law for surrogacy, just look at the Queensland Government website. In the section titled “What is legal under the Surrogacy Act 2010” it states:
“Surrogacy arrangements are not enforceable. This means that the birth mother or the intended parents may change her or his minds at any time before the court makes an order to transfer the parentage of the child to the intended parents.”
Now, let’s play a little game of choose your own adventure.
Which scenario do you think will happen?
- Adam and Kirsty thank God for the twins, take them home from hospital and everyone lives happily ever after. Especially Sally, who goes on to star in a reality television program and writes a best-selling book about her experience of motherhood.
- Adam and Kirsty do not want twins and ask for one of them to be aborted. They agonise over the decision until the child is past 20 weeks, qualifying someone for Paid Parental Leave. Sally gratefully accepts this as recompense for mental suffering endured.
- Adam has a bingle in his car and gets in a fight with Kirsty because he never wanted the babies anyway. He feels pressured by Kirsty who has also lost her job due to public service cutbacks and no longer believes she is capable of being a good parent. Sally goes on to abort both of them because her pregnancy costs are not being met and she is under severe stress.
- Adam and Kirsty split up after they find the “spark” has been lost while the pressure of impending parental responsibility is applied to their non-committal relationship. Neither feel that they should be forced into honouring an unenforceable surrogacy arrangement. Obviously they make this decision because it’s “best for the children” that they have “stable” parents and so Adam and Kirsty back out. Sally has the children but does not wish to care for them either, so they are placed into state custody.
- Kirsty is diagnosed with depression half-way through the pregnancy. Adam no longer feels capable of raising the twins in these new circumstances. Sally files for custody but so does Faye, who has since split with her husband and is desperate for a new start in life. These twins are just what she is looking for and, after all, they are more biologically hers than Sally’s. A lengthy court battle ensues and the result is not determined until the twins can walk. Sally gets the boy and Faye keeps his sister.
I’m not sure what ending you chose, but I’m betting it wasn’t the fairytale.
And I’m sure you’ve also noticed that this little scenario didn’t even encompass the moral black hole of surrogacy arrangements for gay or lesbian couples.
Yet it is gay and lesbian couples who were hot off the mark to take advantage of these laws. And judging by the regret expressed by Queensland’s first surrogate mother, fairy tales don’t happen in real life either.
This is what she had to say about her experience of giving birth to a little boy who was then handed over to gay friends:
“I was crying in hospital when he was having his first bath, I couldn’t watch, I thought what the hell have I done? I never thought having a child and giving him away would make me feel like this. I regret everything, I don’t regret Connor, I regret the decision very much, I just wish I’d never done it.”
She’s not the first surrogate mother to make the news either. A surrogate in the United States was offered $10,000 to abort the child she carried last year.
If there’s one thing that real life tells us, it’s this: surrogacy laws legalise misery.