Importing and Exporting Embryos and Gametes
If you are considering surrogacy and fertility treatment options in Australia and overseas, you need to consider where the embryo creation will take place and whether that will have an impact on your plans. There are restrictions on importing and exporting gametes and embryos both in Australia and in other countries and it’s a good idea to do some research before creating embryos.
There are particular restrictions on transporting donor gametes and embryos. It is generally easier to transport gametes and embryos created from the intended parents than it is to transport embryos created with donors. There are also restrictions on transporting embryos if the donor was paid rather than altruistic. Donors must consent to having their information recorded, so that any child born from their donation can access that information when they are older.
In Victoria, the Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority must approve the import and export of donor gametes. If you are using your own gametes, VARTA does not need to be involved in the import/export process.
In several States, it is illegal to transport embryos interstate or outside of the country without the explicit consent of the donor. If you have created embryos with the help of a donor, you will need their consent to transport the embryos. This may be difficult if the donor was recruited through a clinic or from an overseas sperm or egg bank.
If you are pursuing surrogacy overseas, you should consider whether it is better, easier or cheaper to create embryos in your destination country, or within Australia. If you are creating embryos in your destination country, you should consider whether you will want to bring the unused embryos to Australia in the future.
Things to consider when creating embryos that you may seek to transport later:
- Whether you are creating embryos with the help of a donor and what restrictions apply in your State and the destination country for transporting donor gametes;
- Whether the treatment you are seeking must occur within your home State. For example, several States require that the embryo transfers in surrogacy arrangements must occur within that State in order to qualify for a Parentage Order when baby is born.
- Whether you are eligible for the Medicare rebate if you create embryos in Australia and whether that makes it more affordable than creating them in your destination country.
If you have questions about creating embryos in Australia, or transporting embryos outside of the State or country you should ask your fertility clinic.
If you are creating embryos you might like to consider your own views, and that of any donors, as to what happens to those embryos should someone die.