An Australian lawyer is calling on an overhaul of prohibitive surrogacy laws after multiple families were forced to fight to take their babies home from a Greek clinic at the centre of a major scandal.
The Mediterranean Fertility Institute in Crete – where hundreds of families have undertaken surrogacy procedures – was raided by federal police earlier this month over accusations of human trafficking and fraud, the Australian reported.
It is understood at least eight newborns were taken into the care of the Greek government, with their parents unable to take them home or even hold them.
Two families have since been reunited with their babies after undertaking DNA testing.
Melbourne-based surrogacy lawyer Sarah Jefford in Melbourne said the incident is a lesson for the Australian government and urged them to act quickly to make it safer for parents to undertake surrogacy at home.
“I think the time is now for the Australian government to really consider a shake-up of Australian surrogacy laws,” she told Weekend Today on Saturday.
“If they want to make it safe for surrogates and babies and for the intended parents, we need to consider ways to make it easier to do here in our own country.
“Rather than compel intended parents to go overseas because it’s an easier option than doing it in their home country.”
Ms Jefford said it is a relief to hear some of the parents have been reunited with their children, but a number are stuck in limbo with embryos still in storage and others waiting for their children to be born.
“I was very shocked when I heard that intended parents that had gone overseas hopefully to bring their baby home have now been told that may not be possible,” she said.
“We’ve also still got many intended parents that have a baby on the way or embryos in storage that they don’t know what the future holds.
“It is very distressing to be in that holding pattern, but unfortunately that’s all we can do.”
Finding a surrogate in Australia is incredibly difficult due to laws that prohibit women from advertising or accepting payment for carrying another person’s child.
Families wanting to undertake surrogacy at home are left with few options, with most surrogates being a family member or friend of the parents.
There are an estimated 110 surrogacy births in Australia every year.