Gamete and Embryo Donation and Surrogacy in Australia: The Social Context and Regulatory Framework

Document Type : Ethics, Legal, Social, Counseling Article


1 Melbourne School of Population Health, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

2 Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority, Melbourne, Australia


The social and legal acceptability of third-party reproduction varies around the world. In Australia, gamete and embryo donation and surrogacy are permitted within the regulatory framework set out by federal and state governments. The aim of this paper is to describe the social context and regulatory framework for third-party reproduction in Australia. This is a review of current laws and regulations related to third-party reproduction in Australia. Although subtle between-state differences exist, third-party reproduction is by and large a socially acceptable and legally permissible way to form a family throughout Australia. The overarching principles that govern the practice of third-party reproduction are altruism; the right of donorconceived people to be informed of their biological origins; and the provision of comprehensive counselling about the social, psychological, physical, ethical, financial and legal implications of third-party reproduction to those considering donating or receiving gametes or embryos and entering surrogacy arrangements. These principles ensure that donors are not motivated by financial gain, donor offspring can identify and meet with the person or persons who donated gametes or embryos, and prospective donors and recipients are aware of and have carefully considered the potential consequences of third-party reproduction. Australian state laws and federal guidelines prohibit commercial and anonymous third-party reproduction; mandate counselling of all parties involved in gamete and embryo donation and surrogacy arrangements; and require clinics to keep records with identifying and non- identifying information about the donor/s to allow donor-conceived offspring to trace their biological origins.