By KAHLA PRESTON
If an Australian woman is using IVF in order to get pregnant, she can access financial assistance from Medicare.
But if she is undertaking IVF as part of a legal surrogacy arrangement, she is not entitled to a medical rebate for her cycles – even if she is medically incapable of carrying a child herself.
Once her child is born through IVF surrogacy, she is eligible for paid parental leave and the baby bonus because the Government recognises her as that child’s mother. But she gets no help with the financially crippling costs of undertaking IVF in the first place.
When Jillian Spears approached her doctor about undertaking IVF surrogacy, using her own eggs rather than donor eggs, she was outraged to learn of this inconsistency. Now, she’s fighting to bring the inequality to the Government’s attention.
Jillian, 40, recently began her first IVF cycle in the hope of having a child with Alex, her partner of almost three years. In 2007 she had a hysterectomy due to an ongoing case of endometriosis, and while she was able to keep her ovaries only one appears to be producing quality eggs.
Having decided against adoption and fostering, the Brisbane couple began researching another option: surrogacy.
Seeking a surrogate abroad is illegal under QLD’s current laws, so they decided to keep the procedure local.
Fortunately, Jillian’s sister – already a mother of four – generously volunteered as surrogate mother.
“Ultimately it’s very, very hard to find a surrogate. So we’re blessed,” Jillian explains, adding that publicly advertising for a surrogate mother is prohibited under local law.