Gammy Will Not Stop Surrogacy
Surrogacy is not a crime! Surrogacy is the noblest act of creating life.
Baby Gammy’s abandonment by an Australian couple is a crime. But the crime is abandonment, not the surrogacy itself. Surrogacy must not be illegalized, but
The process of obtaining parental responsibility should be shortened!
Surrogacy should be legalized for everyone in Israel!
Surrogacy approval committees that determine people’s fates should be eliminated!
Reasonable conditions that will allow people to become parents by surrogacy can be determined by law.
The story of baby Gammy reawakens the debate surrounding surrogacy. Gammy is the son of an Australian couple born to a surrogate mother from Thailand. Gammy was born along with his twin sister six months ago, but suffers from Down syndrome. His disability was discovered during the pregnancy carried by a Thai surrogate mother. When the Australian parents learned that the fetus had Down’s Syndrome, they asked the surrogate mother to terminate the pregnancy. She refused. When the twins were born, the parents took their healthy daughter home to Australia and left Gammy in Thailand. The surrogate mother decided that if the parents would not raise him, she would. The surrogate mother proved herself the most conscientious in this story, a real angel.
To complicate matters, it was recently revealed that the Australian father is a convicted pedophile who served several years in Australian prison for sexual offenses against children, a fact raising serious questions about his right to father children.
Yes to surrogacy
Even as an enthusiastic supportive of surrogacy, I will admit this scandal horrified me and churned my stomach. What ugliness and exploitation, but a far cry from necessitating sweeping conclusions prohibiting surrogacy.
Thailand’s first response was to consider enacting a law prohibiting surrogacy. Australia is also considering legislation increasing supervision of the process. After years of successful surrogacy procedures bring hundreds of children into the world, practically overnight, some seek to eliminate surrogacy in the wake of one sad affair. Let’s use this opportunity to define the legal responsibilities of the surrogate mother and intended parents to protect the rights of children born through surrogacy.
Surrogacy is not a crime
I believe that the opposite conclusions should be reached. I believe that surrogacy should be allowed worldwide, in every country. The government should not prevent its citizens from becoming parents through surrogacy.
Surrogacy is humanity’s noblest way to help one another create life. This case demonstrates how a woman can act for the benefit of others and how she does so not only for the money. The legal foundation for the surrogacy relationship must be legally solid and agreed in advance – but it must continue to exist.
Who is responsible for the child?
A legal agreement must be written between the surrogate and the intended parents that considers all the potential scenarios that could arise. The stakeholders should agree in writing what will happen if the fetus develops with a birth defect or, God forbid, is stillborn, or the surrogate mother is harmed by the pregnancy, and more. These situations can occur in any pregnancy, whether she is the biological mother, a surrogate mother, and all contingencies need to be anticipated and planned for.
The parents and surrogate must also carefully consider the question of parental responsibility. The stakeholders must define the expected conduct of each party throughout the surrogacy process and to create legal consequences for failure to uphold their obligations. If the parents fail to take responsibility for the child, they should face sanctions, perhaps even criminal charges.
Gammy would not have been abandoned if the parents were given legal responsibility for him from the time of his birth. If they had abandoned him after being declared the legal parents, they would have been immediately and rightly convicted of a crime. The time that it took for the parents to be registered as his parents in a cumbersome legal bureaucracy enabled them to escape all responsibility with no legal accountability.
Many years of struggles to legalize surrogacy taught me how necessary and important surrogacy is. Yet the process of registering the parents of children born via a surrogate must be eased and expedited, to make surrogacy more available and affordable, and to protect the rights of the children it produces.
Gammy’s human story is indeed shocking, but it must not result in reckless and irresponsible conclusions that will allow the countries involved to evade responsibility.
The benefits that surrogacy produces cannot be negated because of some cowards who refuse to take responsibility for their disabled child. Today, surrogacy entails a legal and bureaucratic process which is cumbersome and fraught with failures that must be urgently amended. Surrogacy creates life and is the ultimate expression of a person who wishes to establish a new family and be a parent. Change it, don’t cancel it. Fix the process, don’t stop it. The solution is the immediate imposition of parental liability after birth so that children cannot be abandoned while in legal limbo.
The author is a specialist in fertility and family law and founder of New Family Organization