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Source: Family First


30 May 2023

Family First NZ is rejecting the Government’s urgency on changing the surrogacy laws, saying that its Bill is out of kilter with what the Law Commission has recommended, and is focused only on the adults’ rights and needs – and ignores the rights and needs of the child.

“It’s important to say from the outset – we all completely sympathise with couples who cannot have children and we understand why some consider going down this track in order to have children. But this discussion tends to be focused only on the adults’ rights and needs. The rights of the child should remain paramount. Biology and identity matters – especially to the child. This is not a sexuality issue. This is a biological issue, and biology discriminates. It takes a mum and a dad to create a child, and children have a deep desire to know their mum and dad. We should take all steps we can as a society to meet this fundamental need of every child,” says Bob McCoskrie, CE of Family First NZ.

What is it like to find out that your true biological father’s only involvement in your life was the donation of his sperm? How do you deal with the feeling of loss and rejection from your biological mother who is labelled as your ‘surrogate’ or ‘gestational carrier’? What if the biological parent or parents don’t want any contact?

The research shows that surrogate mothers can be at increased risk for emotional trauma and psychological burden. Deep bonds are formed between mother and child during gestation and the inability of some surrogate mothers to relinquish their babies has resulted in excruciating levels of anguish for the surrogate and in high-profile lawsuits. Family First has been contacted by surrogates who have firsthand experience of this trauma.

Despite the greatest intentions of the lawmakers, there’s no mandate that a donor is to be involved – or will want to be involved – in the child’s life. It may still effectively be anonymous, except for the disclosure of some of their genetic origin.

The Bill fails to address a number of key recommendations made by the Law Commission. The most notable omissions of the Bill are:

    1. a failure to set out how the welfare and best interests of the child are to be considered when gaining ethics approval and determining legal parenthood of the child;
    2. the detail of what reasonable costs can be compensated under surrogacy arrangements;
    3. the rights of surrogate-born people to access information about their surrogate parent; and

Because the Bill is less prescriptive than the Law Commission about what constitutes reasonable expenses, there is arguably greater scope for the unintended commercialisation of surrogacy arrangements.

The Bill is focused on making surrogacy more accessible for the benefit of the intending parents, whereas the Law Commission Review more roundly considers the interests of all parties, including the child, surrogate and intending parents.

“The Law Commission Review even highlighted the principle that surrogate-born people should have a right to know their genetics, whakapapa, gestational origins and to access that information.”

Family First is calling for the Improving Arrangements for Surrogacy Bill to be withdrawn, and for the Government to produce a bill that represents and deals with the issues raised by the Law Commission, and then to resubmit it and allow public submissions to a select committee.

It is important to note that Family First opposes surrogacy because it is not in the best interests of the child. Surrogacy, even when done altruistically, objectifies children and surrogate mothers and creates lifelong emotional issues for both. Surrogate mothers are at increased risk for emotional trauma and psychological burden. The process leads to the commodification of children.

“The process should not be easy and it absolutely deserves full scrutiny because it is a complex situation involving a child’s identity.”

READ Family First’s submission to the Select Committee

READ Family First’s submission to the Law Commission