Law Commission recommends significant changes to surrogacy law | 1 NEWS


The Law Commission recommends a new path to parenthood that does not require adoption for parents of a child born to a surrogate mother.

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The Law Commission is seeking comments on its surrogacy proposals. Source: 1 NEWS

The government last year asked the independent Crown body to review New Zealand’s surrogacy laws.

This week He KōpÅ« Whāngai: He Arotake – Review of Surrogacy has been published the Commission seeking comments on its recommendations to the government until 23 September.

In the review, the Commission states that the adoption process is inappropriate for surrogacy arrangements.

“The law fails to promote the best interests of the child … The law does not respect the intentions of the surrogate mother and the intended parents,” the review said.

“Surrogacy agreements affect the child as well as the parties involved and we want to make sure the law is fair for everyone,” Law Commission senior adviser Nichola Lambie said.

The proposal would see parents legally recognized from the birth of their child, if the surrogate mother gives her consent, and if the surrogacy agreement has been approved by the Ethics Committee on Assisted Reproductive Technologies, a requirement in some scenarios.

Otherwise, an application for legal parenthood in family court would still be required.

“I think the protection of rights is more heavily placed on the surrogate mother than on the intended parents or the surrogate child,” father Chad Walters told 1 NEWS.

“For me, I question this weight and this power to revoke consent especially when the gametes are not those people.”

Walters and her partner Blair McNaughton became legal parents to their daughter Kora in November last year by adoption, four months after her birth to an egg donor and surrogate.

Law Commission senior adviser Nichola Lambie said ensuring that the surrogate has an opportunity to give consent ensures that the arrangement is sound and that it is in the best interests of the surrogate. the child.

“Everything would be fine, they would be recognized as legal parents after the birth, if there is a disagreement we think this is something that the family court should be involved in as they are for any dispute regarding a child, ”Lambie said.

Walters said the proposal doesn’t go far enough.

“In our scenario, since we started this process in Canada, we avoided the ECART ethics approval, so we would be on path number two… path number two still includes a social worker assessment, always includes participation in family court and even in the report they just released, they recognize that it is not much different from what it is now.

Husband McNaughton said he believes it is important that there are checks and balances to ensure reproductive technology is used ethically.

“But the kind of details they go into in these projections and all the questions that are put to you seem unnecessary to me,” he said.

Walters said what was to be a time of celebration when Kora was born, and a period of adjustment to become parents, was negatively affected by the legal process to become her legal parents.

“Doing it this way completely undermines us as Intended Parents and it devalues ​​us and our intentions,” Walters said.

He said he was heartbroken to receive mail regarding Kora that was addressed to the surrogate and that what would happen in an emergency was another stress caused by the situation.

“Chad is the genetically fathered and therefore this birth certificate that we received at birth was really a lie,” McNaughton said.

“Starting life with non-truth, with fiction, is definitely not in the best interest,” Walters said.

“If we were to have, God forbid, an accident before the adoption and that’s the only document and it’s the only thing she has access to, that’s not true… and I know it is. is something that needs to change.

The Law Commission’s review also includes recommendations regarding Maori tikanga, the child’s right to information, international surrogacy, government funding of costs related to surrogacy arrangements, and compensation. surrogate mothers.

Margaret Casey QC, a surrogacy lawyer who was part of the Commission’s expert advisory group, supports the proposals as a way to streamline the process while maintaining safeguards.

“Many couples I work for go abroad to create their families because they cannot find a surrogate mother and cannot find donors.

“It would be really nice if, through these changes, we could encourage people to stay in New Zealand for their surrogacy process,” Casey said.

She said it would be beneficial for everyone involved, including the child, so that the relationship can develop between the parties during pregnancy and contact can easily continue afterward.

She said it is important that compensation for surrogate mothers is highlighted in the review.

“What they (expectant parents) don’t want is for the surrogate to back down financially… compensation is something that is paid in many other jurisdictions,” Casey said.

The Law Commission plans to deliver the final report to the government next year.

Labor MP Tamati Coffey is waiting for his bill covering a series of proposed amendments to the surrogacy law to be drawn from the MP’s ballot.

He told 1 NEWS that with the support of a few more MPs, the bill could bypass that process and get introduced.


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