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Surrogacy: who needs a mother, anyway?

By David van Gend - posted Friday, 12 February 2010

The Surrogacy Bill 2009 (PDF 623KB) currently before the Queensland Parliament should have been about altruistic surrogacy as a “last resort” for an infertile couple. But no, under that respectable cloak this Bill smuggles in a radical proposal to deprive children of their birthright - their fundamental right to enter the world, as most of us did, with both a mother and a father.

By what authority does any government permit adults to deny a child her most profound emotional need: to have both a Mum and a Dad in her life?

This Bill allows all Queensland adults aged over 25 (including a single man or woman, or same-sex couples) to obtain a child “of their own” using reproductive technology like IVF and a surrogate womb. The birth certificate will be legally falsified to declare the single adult, or the same-sex couple, to be the baby’s true “parents”.


Under this Bill, two men are allowed to bring a baby girl into the world with the full intention of denying that child even the possibility of a mother in her life. Likewise, this Bill will help a single infertile woman to obtain a surrogate baby boy for herself, condemning that baby to live without even the possibility of a father.

That is wrong. We know as surely as we know anything that a baby needs a Mum and a Dad. Certainly, there are tragedies where a child cannot have both parents - through the death or desertion of a partner - but we would never wish that sadness on a child. This oppressive Bill sets out intentionally to inflict the loss of a parent on a surrogate child.

Australian ethicist Professor Margaret Somerville condemns this deliberate destruction of the child’s biological identity:

It is one matter for children not to know their genetic identity as a result of unintended circumstances. It is quite another matter to deliberately destroy children’s links to their biological parents, and especially for society to be complicit in this destruction.

A group of young adults deprived, as babies, of the possibility of knowing a father (through anonymous artificial insemination) have come together as Tangled Webs Inc. They speak with authority (PDF 92KB) for the next generation of children - the next stolen generation - who will be deprived of what they call, very poignantly, a “whole mother”:

A child’s best interests are served when it is conceived and gestated by; born to and nurtured by, one mother. To fragment maternal roles through ova donation/gestational surrogacy is to deny a child its entitlement to a whole mother.


The UN Declaration on the Rights of the Child (PDF 164KB) affirms that a child must not, “save in the most exceptional circumstances, be separated from his mother”, and yet this Bill will do exactly that, in a premeditated way. A little girl must live without a mother, purely to satisfy the desire of two men to have a baby of their own. What then of the rights of the child?

The Surrogacy Bill 2009 despises those rights; it is an assault on the heart and mind of a little child, and any MP who votes for it is complicit in that assault.

A few of us GPs, lawyers, ethicists and others have been sufficiently provoked by this assertion of adult “choice” over childhood “need”, to mount a campaign against it, at At the time of writing, it appears likely that the government Bill will prevail, but that the Opposition may commit, in government, to repealing the provisions that allow a child to be conceived with the prior intention of denying that child a mother, or a father - i.e. single and same-sex surrogacy.

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About the Author

Dr David van Gend is a Toowoomba GP and Queensland secretary for the World Federation of Doctors who Respect Human Life.

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