What is surrogacy?
Surrogacy is an assisted reproductive treatment (ART) in which a woman (surrogate) carries a child in her uterus on behalf of another person because they are unable to carry a pregnancy themselves. For some women, using a surrogate is their only hope of having a child.
Since the implementation of the Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act (2008) in January 2010, Melbourne IVF has been able to facilitate surrogacy arrangements.
‘Gestational surrogacy’ is the only type of surrogacy that is legal in Victoria. This is where an embryo created using an egg and sperm produced by the commissioning parent(s) or donors is transferred into the surrogate’s uterus. In these circumstances, the surrogate has no genetic link to the child.
Surrogacy is a highly complex process and there are many important steps in place to ensure all parties are well informed.
Under current Victorian legislation, the surrogate’s eggs cannot be used to conceive the child. We are also required by legislation to ensure that the surrogacy arrangement has been approved by the Patient Review Panel.
Who can commission a surrogate for childbirth?
Under Victorian law, a person is eligible to commission a surrogate if they are:
- Unlikely to become pregnant,
- Unlikely to be able to carry a child or give birth,
- Likely to place their life or health (or that of the baby) at risk if they become pregnant, carry the baby or give birth.
Our medical guidelines for surrogacy include:
- Absence of the uterus,
- An abnormality of the uterus preventing safe pregnancy,
- Other medical conditions making pregnancy too risky for the mother or baby.
Under Melbourne IVF clinical guidelines the commissioning woman may use her own eggs until her 46th birthday, if medically appropriate. If using donor eggs or embryos, the upper age limit for treatment is the commissioning woman’s 51st birthday.
The commissioning parent(s) must find their own surrogate and it is illegal to advertise for someone to act as a surrogate.
Who can be a surrogate?
Under Victorian law, the surrogate must satisfy the following requirements for approval by the Patient Review Panel:
- The surrogate must have previously carried a child and given birth to a live child,
- The surrogate must be at least 25 years of age,
- The surrogate’s eggs must not be used in the conception of the child.
Under current legislation all parties to the surrogacy arrangement must undergo a Criminal Records check (to be sighted by the counsellor providing counselling) and consent to a Child Protection Order check.
It is illegal for a woman to advertise that she is willing to act as a surrogate mother.
Under Melbourne IVF clinical guidelines:
- The upper recommended age limit for the intended surrogate is 40 years of age,
- Only one embryo will be transferred into a surrogate at any given time,
- It is highly recommended that the surrogate has completed her own family.
Satisfying the above eligibility requirements does not guarantee Patient Review Panel approval for a surrogacy arrangement to proceed.
The surrogacy process
To find out more information about the Melbourne IVF surrogacy program call our Surrogacy Program Co-ordinator on (03) 9473 4611.
Read more about the surrogacy process in our surrogacy booklet...