ABC News has uncovered yet another case of a surrogate child being abandoned by Australian parents; this time, the baby came from India. It seems it is possible that the Australian High Commission in New Dehli was aware of the situation, and that the abandoned baby may have actually been sold. Now, Chief Justice of the Family Court, Diana Bryant, is saying that a national inquiry should be done into surrogacy in India.
Bryant first learned of the case after consular officials contacted her regarding the surrogacy case involving a set of twins born to an Australian couple via a surrogate. The officials informed Bryant that they were being pressured to provide a visa to allow the couple to return to their home country with only one of the two babies.
“They told me the surrogate mother had given birth to twins and the Australian couple only wanted one of the children,” Bryant told ABC News. “I don’t know whether it was a boy or a girl. They already had one sex and they didn’t want the other child.”
Further investigation revealed that the pressure may have been coming from Australian officials.
“These women [consular officials] were extremely concerned about what was happening. They were doing the best they could, they told me, to persuade the parents to take both the children, to negotiate with them,” Bryant said. “In the meantime, they were getting pressure from Australia to grant the visa. They told me, in the end, they couldn’t persuade the couple to take both children and they had to grant the visa to bring the one child back.”
But probably the most disturbing detail of all is what happened to the unwanted child; according to the officials, it is possible that the child had been sold. If that’s the case, it would be considered human trafficking, a criminal offense in many countries.
“I asked them what happened to the other child. They said someone in the end had come forward – and they said they were known to the family – and took the child, but they expressed to me their great concern that, in fact, money had exchanged hands,” Bryant said. “I think it’s appalling. It’s a breach of all sorts of human rights conventions and it’s a criminal offense in many places if that is so.”
No one has been able to determine where, exactly, that pressure may have been coming from, but Bryant, as well as other officials, are calling for an inquiry into surrogacy to hopefully determine where the problem is coming from.
Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit Court, John Pascoe, is one such official. He and the Family Court and Federal Court handled another recent surrogacy case – the case of baby Gammy, a surrogate born to Australian parents via surrogate in Thailand. He was abandoned after his parents discovered he had Down Syndrome.
“I’ve spent many sleepless nights. I’ve heard things and I’ve seen things that I really don’t think anyone should see…and I find it deeply distressing that nothing is being done about the issue,” Pascoe told ABC News. “I am really concerned that this issue is not receiving the attention it properly deserves. I think Australia is a country of decent people where international obligations are respected. We have obligations in human rights and I think it is very important that we step up to them.”
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