Linda Burney confronted about punitive surrogacy amendment

26 Mar

On SBS Insight on Thursday, March 22,  audience members got their chance to confront the NSW Minister for Community Services, Linda Burney,  on her amendment to the NSW surrogacy legislation that makes overseas commercial surrogacy a crime in NSW.

Extra territorial laws such as this are at present only in place for terrorist activities and child sexual abuse.

Burney introduced the amendment in an effort to protect women overseas she considers to be exploited by Australian parents seeking a surrogate.

It is a little on the grandiose side to imagine that any NSW law will have any impact at all on commercial surrogacy in, say, India.

But Burney’s agenda is punitive – she has admitted  that it is intended to “punish” couples who seek overseas surrogates. It will do nothing to prevent couples using overseas surrogates, as she also admitted in the program.

What it will do is put couples at risk of hefty fines and custodial sentences of up to two years if on returning to NSW they attempt to obtain parentage orders for their babies.

Parents are unable to apply for the orders without disclosing the circumstances of their child’s birth. If in an effort to avoid prosecution the parents don’t apply for parentage orders, their children are cast into a legal limbo that leaves them disadvantaged and discriminated against.

Ms Burney was supported by  Dr Renate Klein, a  “pro life” or anti choice feminist, depending on your point of view. Dr Klein steadfastly refused to acknowledge the right of adult couples to make responsible choices about commercial surrogacy. She stated that we cannot all have what we want, and when couples can’t have children, they must learn to live with it.

There has been much discontent around Burney’s amendment, and widespread agreement that it was passed without anything like the amount of public discussion and consultation it should have had.

It was clear from the couples in the studio who’d used surrogates that they are decent, fair people who went to great lengths to ensure the women who carried their babies were decently treated.

A father told the story of how his twin boys were born prematurely, and he’d lost them both. Klein immediately demanded to know if the surrogate got paid anyway.

The father broke down, and haltingly responded that of course she did, and that he thought it was disgraceful that Klein had had asked that question. I have to say I agree with him.

While there are of course incidences of exploitation, constructing all surrogacy arrangements as exploitative is extremely dishonest. This is what Burney and Klein have done, in order to further their personal agendas.

The topic is too vast, and too important to be left to the agendas of two women whose primary purpose is punitive and who’s moral position, in the case of Klein, extremely narrow.

Lastly we crossed to a short interview with twin boys carried by an American surrogate, whose parents were in the studio audience. The boys know all about their gestation, and are looking forward to a trip to the States where they’ll to go to Disneyland and spend time with the woman “who borned us.”

It seems unlikely that Burney will be a Minister after this weekend. She might be out of a job as well. She leaves a mean-spirited, dishonest and disempowering legacy to couples and their children. It is probably too much to expect that this amendment will be revoked. This means there will probably be babies in NSW who have no legal status and no legal protection, and no legal identity.

Another disgraceful legacy from NSW Labor.

10 Responses to “Linda Burney confronted about punitive surrogacy amendment”

  1. jeffg March 27, 2011 at 12:26 pm #

    what is Linda Burney’s personal agenda?


    • Jennifer Wilson March 27, 2011 at 2:45 pm #

      Burney expressed a desire to “punish” couples who seek overseas commercial surrogates on the grounds that these surrogates are exploited. There’s commercial surrogates who choose do that, in Western countries usually middle class women, and they aren’t exploited, as well as regulated commercial surrogacy in other countries where women are properly paid and cared for.

      There are cases of exploitation of women, but her amendment won’t do anything to address that situation.

      The use of the term “punish” suggested to me a personal agenda – I don’t know what it is. I think to want to “punish” someone is a personal emotional desire.


      • jeffg April 22, 2011 at 6:18 pm #

        i listened to her by chance on a Life Matters podcast. it was the first i’d heard of the legislation as i don’t live in australia. i felt her reasoning entirely reasonable.


  2. paul walter March 28, 2011 at 2:55 pm #

    You are not going to be happy with following but here goes: am going to suggest it would be more helpful, given the gloomy expectations for kids in developing countries and infinitely more simple, less costly and time consuming, to adopt a kid.
    On the other hand, one supposes carrying a child for some one else is viable for a woman living in poverty.
    Sorry, am just not “good”with fertility type issues…


    • Jennifer Wilson March 28, 2011 at 6:44 pm #

      Not at all unhappy with that idea, however people want their own biological children, hence surrogacy.
      As medicine has made it possible, the people will do it!


      • Jennifer Wilson March 29, 2011 at 7:17 am #

        Stupidly watched Four Corners last night on the Qantas airbus events – am flying to the States in two weeks, and don’t need so much information!


  3. PAUL WALTER March 29, 2011 at 9:07 am #

    I understand the problem with international travel is not so much the trip itself, but all the bs that goes on immediately before and after the flight. Missed it last night, other things…


  4. Juia April 18, 2017 at 5:50 pm #

    Having a child is usually a happy time in a woman’s life. Unfortunately, as we wait longer to have children, infertility and trouble conceiving can become a part of the family making process. Unbearable addresses these difficulties. This week, I found out that I will never get pregnant. After two and a half years of trying and hoping, my struggle is over. Through all of the ups and downs of infertility, I always had hope. I truly believed that someday I would get pregnant. Losing that hope is almost as hard as losing a pregnancy. Luckily I married an angel. My hubby supported me even more than I deserve. He never stops looking for solution. Eventually, we decided on IVF. I wanted baby so bad that methods wasn’t even matter for me. We easily went through 2 circles in Biotex clinic. Paid once and no longer returned to the financial issue. It costed us 30k euros but it was worth it. I mean it seems the amount is not so big but not super small in the overall benefit that elevating us. We are incredibly grateful for our daughter, but I still feel sad for all we have gone through. Struggling with infertility changed us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson April 19, 2017 at 3:29 pm #

      Ah, yes, Juia, I can only imagine the difficulties you’ve gone through. Giving up hope is no small thing.
      And I’m glad you have a daughter. That is a brilliant outcome. 👏



  1. Chiang-Cruise » [Australia - New South Wales] – The Daily Telegraph – “Baby law ‘will make parents into liars’ warn legal experts” by Letitia Rowlands - April 2, 2011

    […] Linda Burney confronted about punitive surrogacy amendment Categories: Uncategorized Tags: Comments (0) Trackbacks (0) Leave a comment Trackback […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: