Friday, 20 March 2015

The results of surrogacy procedures overseas

Dr Karin Hammarberg from The Jean Hailes Research Unit has collaborated with researchers from The Canberra Fertility Centre and Surrogacy Australia on a study of Australians who consider or undertake surrogacy. In this paper they report the outcomes for those who had undertaken compensated surrogacy overseas.

This was an online survey of 259 members of two Australian parenting support forums. Of these 112 had undertaken at least one surrogacy attempt overseas. India and the United States were the two most common destination countries. More than half (51%) had engaged more than one surrogate, 85% had used donor eggs and 85% had at least one child as a result of surrogacy. Multiple birth was reported by 55%, 45% of births were premature, and 10% stated that the pregnancy had ended in a late miscarriage or a perinatal death.

Almost all believed it was in the best interest of the child to be able to access information about the egg donor in the future and were planning to tell the child about using a donor and a surrogate. However, most children will not be able to know who donated the eggs as egg donation in most overseas destinations is anonymous.

The researchers make the point that Australian surrogacy laws make it difficult for people to undertake surrogacy in the home country. Therefore most intending parents who need surrogacy to have a child travel overseas. The high rate of multiple and premature births in overseas surrogacy arrangements make it highly likely that a proportion of the children will have ongoing health problems. Also, most will not be able to access information about the egg donor in the future. 

The researchers conclude that these adverse outcomes could be avoided if the surrogacy was undertaken in Australia where practice is more regulated and outcomes for children better. If some of the existing barriers to surrogacy in Australia were removed this may reduce the number of surrogacy arrangements carried out overseas.

The paper is available here.

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