The Northern Territory (NT) is the only jurisdiction in Australia without legislation governing surrogacy. Territorians therefore are unable to access surrogacy in the NT. There have been a number of representations from community members for legislation to be introduced to enable surrogacy arrangements in the NT. The Northern Territory Government is interested in hearing local views on the need for NT legislation for surrogacy.
Laws relating to surrogacy vary across Australian states and territories. Attempts to harmonise surrogacy legislation nationally over the last 12 years have not been successful. Although surrogacy has occurred throughout history, the issue remains debated and seen by some as having significant ethical, social and legal implications.
Surrogacy refers to an arrangement for a woman to become pregnant and give birth to a child for another couple or single person, with the intention of giving the child to the couple or person once the child is born.
Australian jurisdictions with specific legislation permit altruistic surrogacy, where the surrogate receives no financial benefit or reward or commercial surrogacy. Commercial surrogacy, where a financial benefit is received by the surrogate, is prohibited in Australia.
Key areas for consideration:
Surrogacy involves many complex ethical, social and legal issues. Four key aspects to consider with surrogacy legislation in the Northern Territory include:
- Ensuring the rights and responsibilities of parties involved in surrogacy arrangements, particularly the rights of the child born from a surrogate
- Regulation of surrogacy arrangements (eligibility etc)
- Mechanisms to access surrogacy
- Legal recognition of parentage to override parentage presumptions