Interview with Stephen Page: Surrogacy, Adoption, LGBTI Marriage Equality and more!

Stephen Page

Stephen Page

Stephen Page is an Australian family lawyer, who specialises in surrogacy law and LGBTI legal issues. He is one of two international representatives on the American Bar Association's Artificial Reproductive Technologies (ART) Committee, and the only Australian Fellow of the American Academy of Assisted Reproductive Treatment Attorneys. He was awarded 'Activist of the Year' at the 2015 Queen's Ball, which joins the numerous accolades Stephen has earned over the years for his work. He also blogs about gay & lesbian legal issues.

On Thursday, 20 August 2015, Stephen sat down with JATL executive members Wil Alam and Jocelyn Bosse to discuss the legal and social justice issues with which he works.

Wil: "Under s 22 of the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 2003, a couple must divorce if one partner has gone through a gender reassignment. How do you feel about that?"

Stephen: "The first thing about that legislation is that it's not quite as clear-cut as that. The reason is that, after the law came into force, I managed to get a client who was married, to have their birth certificate altered from an M to an F. My client had been born in Queensland, had gone through surgery, and had moved overseas. So, they had been born "male" but presented to the whole world as female, and then married a bloke over in the USA.

The problem with that was that - the marriage was valid, to my understanding - but, the problem was that for immigration purposes in the USA, if seen as male, it would result in her having to leave the USA. Therefore, her husband would have to uproot himself from good employment and they'd have to move to the other side of the Pacific, to Australia.

Judy Spence, previous Labor MP

Judy Spence, previous Labor MP

So, I complained to my local member, who was Judy Spence, and then she got onto Rod Welford, who was the then-Attorney-General. He issued a ruling that said that if you are not married in Australia, and you are not living in Australia, then that law does not apply to you. That was from the Minister for Justice down to the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages. We got the alteration through - though you would never have expected, looking at the legislation.

The thinking behind the legislation was the old thinking about marriage, which was that "You're born male, or you're born female, that's it." So, the whole idea of being transgender hadn't come into any legal thinking. It was seen as "inappropriate" and that they "shouldn't be married." New South Wales legislated that way, and Queensland copied the NSW laws - but hasn't changed them since.

There are couple now who feel that they either get recognised for their identity (which means they have to get divorced - which is just terrible!) or they say together, but don't have their identity properly recognised. It's just awful. This is an issue where we're really behind the times, I think. If you want to talk about discrimination towards gay and lesbian people, well I think gay and lesbian people are way ahead of trans people.

On my bookshelf is proof in the pudding about that: "Speaking Out: Stopping Homophobic and Transphobic Abuse in Queensland." This was written by two academics from Griffith [University], Alan Berman and Shirleene Robinson. They carried out several forms of research, and they found that they people who were copping the most abuse were trans people: they felt like they were being treated like freaks."

Jocelyn: "It's hard, I think, in the LGBT community - whenever the mainstream media are talking about the issue of gay marriage, or any gay issues, it's always this image of two white men together - you almost never see any other imagery associated with LGBT issues..."

Stephen: "You mean like this...?" [shows a picture of himself and his partner] [laughter].

Jocelyn: "... yes. And it's hard, because there are so many other issues that are going on, which are being ignored because of the way we are thinking about it. So when we talk about the issue of forced divorce, it's hard to get that message through because the mainstream imagery is swamped by something else entirely."

Wil: "Leading on from that, the momentum for marriage equality has been moving around a lot, especially now that Ireland has just legalised it. How do you feel about our momentum for marriage equality, and what do you think is the best way to achieve that?"

Stephen: "The momentum at the moment sucks, let's not mince words about it. I happened to be in Ireland in the lead up to their referendum, talking to a number of Irish people who were hopeful of change. Several of them were despairing that there would ever be change because they saw that the country was very conservative, of course, it has been a Catholic country. The Catholic church and Pentecostals from the USA were funding a campaign against it, and a number of them were coming over to Ireland to campaign against it. But, overwhelmingly, the Irish people supported the change. I think that was an astounding result, which was topped off by the result in the US Supreme Court.

That outcome was particularly gratifying to me because a couple of my friends over in the United States were part of litigation teams that were litigating those cases. They have run a series of cases in state courts, and before the Supreme Court, arguing this very issue. It is an extraordinary experience that lawyers make a difference. It goes to show the difference between the United States and Australia. We're both liberal democracies, we both speak the English language, we have the same values of common law and equality before the law - that English system - but they've got a Bill of Rights, and we don't. As a result, their Supreme Court can make this ruling, and our High Court can't... unless the High Court adopts the approach that Chief Justice Mason took some years ago, saying that there are implied rights in the Constitution.

If they say that there is an implied right to marry - that hasn't been litigated - it might be different from a legal point of view, but I think the chances of that happening are remote. I think it's profoundly depressing, what we've seen in the last week or so. I, for one, want to get married, and I am unable to do that here. I was hoping that there would be a change and that I could get married here this year, but instead it looks like I'll be going overseas. My relationship won't be recognised by the State, which I think is really sad. I can still be liable to pay a property settlement if we split up, I can still pay spousal maintenance if that applies, we can raise a family together - but the fundamentals of our marriage don't get recognised.

What has been consistent throughout this entire process, is that there has been strong community support. All the polling indicates that there is strong community support for change to the Marriage Act to enable gay and lesbian couples to marry. Indeed, it was raised with me the other day, "What about trans people, and intersex people?" If you have a transgender person who hasn't transitioned to the extent that Kevin did, in that case of Kevin and Jennifer, then can they marry? The answer is that it's a grey area. As for intersex people, depending on how they identify, are they truly "of that gender" and are they entitled to marry? I don't know the answer to that. There's an old case that essentially says "If you are a hermaphrodite, then tough luck."

In terms of intersex people, we know that intersex people get married, but their marriages may not be valid. I think that this is just really rough, whereas if you remove that discrimination - I know I'm preaching to the converted - but if you remove that discrimination, you say that "adults can marry other adults." You still keep all the rules about consanguinity - so, you can't marry your father, for instance. All that discrimination goes out the door.

I don't think the issue has gone. We have the Government saying "Well, we'll have a plebiscite." There was discussion about a referendum, but of course we know that, as a matter of law, it can't be a referendum, despite what Scott Morrison said. It has got to be a plebiscite, but what concerns me is whether Liberal Party politicians will be able to have a free say in the running of the plebiscite. Are they going to be told, "We've got a party policy that says we're against this, so therefore you vote against it." If that happens, it will doom it. Then, a conservative Prime Minister will come along and say, "Well, it's been doomed by plebiscite," and the change will never happen.

I think a fundamental of any plebiscite - and I don't see that there is a need for one, I might add - if our politicians actually showed the gumption of what is reflected consistently by the polls, it would just be legislated. It didn't take that much effort to change the Marriage Act in 2002 - there was nowhere near as much controversy back then as there is now. If we are to be burdened by a plebiscite, then that plebiscite needs to ensure that the politicians of both major parties are not burdened by party rules - that they are able to vote with their conscience." 

Wil: "It seems that most people outside of the LGBTI community think that marriage equality is the be all and end all - what are some other legal issues that you think the LGBTI community faces?"

Stephen: "I'm going to work backwards first. When I went to that award, the Queen's Ball award, it made me reflect on what changes have happened. In 2000, the first baby steps happened. There was an industrial award that, for the first time, allowed a man or a woman to take time off to be with their same sex partner. That was an extraordinary development, and we didn't know at the time whether there'd be rioting..."

Jocelyn: "... or the apocalypse..."

Stephen: "... or mass chaos, that kind of thing - cats and dogs living together... But that change managed to go through, and then there was some extraordinary change. We saw, in Queensland, within a couple of years, virtually all discrimination go, under state legislation - it was just amazing. Within a few years, with Kevin Rudd getting elected, there were about 100 pieces of Commonwealth legislation that were then altered. Largely, Commonwealth legislation doesn't discriminate, which I think is great, but there's unfortunately still discrimination at state level.

Across the country, it's not consistent. For example, if you're a gay couple in Brisbane, and you want to make a baby, you can access surrogacy. If you're a gay or lesbian couple in Adelaide, you can't. If you are a single man in the ACT, you can't - sexuality doesn't matter, but you cannot be single. So, we see discrimination in various states when it comes to family formation. In WA and South Australia, there is quite clear discrimination. In South Australia, only married or de facto heterosexual couples can access surrogacy - so singles, and gay or lesbian couples can't. In Western Australia - bizarrely - married or de facto heterosexual couples, lesbian couples and single women can access surrogacy, but gay couples and single men can't. Go figure.

Four jurisdictions - and Queensland is one of them - discriminate on the basis of sexuality when it comes to adoption, so that's got to go. Tim Wilson, the Human Rights Commissioner, he has written an excellent report which sets out the 'shopping list' of things that have got to change, which for Queensland includes the differential age of consent. Typically, the age of consent is 16 years old, but for anal sex it's 18 years old. How did that come about?

Prior to the Fitzgerald Report, it was all sodomy and illegal for men to have sex with other men, as a result of which, men were getting blackmailed, so this was the basis for corruption. Fitzgerald said to get rid of it. Wayne Goss, in 1990, brought those changes in, and he copied what Neville Wran had done, which was from the age of 18 years. Everyone has moved on, but Queensland hasn't moved on since 1990. We have, unfortunately, gay teenagers who are having sex with each other, and putting themselves at risk of being charged as sex offenders, even though they are having consensual sex between the ages of 16-18 years old.

Other discrimination we've seen is the 'gay panic' defence, expungement of prior criminal convictions for gay sex - those are two that stand out. If you go to our Anti-Discrimination Act, it has specific exceptions for religious schools that employ teachers. The deal that Peter Beattie did, to get through his anti-discrimination legislation in 2002, was to let that exception go through because the Catholic church got all upset about it. There are any number of gay and lesbian teachers employed in Catholic schools who could lose their job because of that exception.

There is also an exception for Assisted Reproductive Treatment (ART), or IVF, so it is lawful, under our state legislation, for an IVF clinic to say "We're not going to treat you because you're a gay couple." We've seen that happen in the past: Queensland Fertility Group was sued by a lesbian who wanted IVF treatment. It went to the Anti-Discrimination Tribunal, she was successful. QFG appealed to the Supreme Court and they were successful, so she was declined treatment. Terrible outcome. I'm pleased to say that QFG and other clinics do not discriminate - I think they've learnt the lesson. But the legislation is still there, and it ought to go.

Another thing is that, if you talk about when families split up, thirty years ago it was common to see women separating from their husbands and getting the care of the children. Then they find another woman, and there would be an order that they couldn't spend time with the other woman in the presence of the children. There are a number of reported cases where they would give an undertaking to the court that they would not do it, and they breached the undertaking - surprise, surprise. One of the things that was taken to account was whether or not there was a homosexual lifestyle which "placed the children at risk." I'm pleased to say that the family law courts have moved way past that now.

Dame Quentin Bryce

Dame Quentin Bryce

What we've seen, though, is that there's structural problems in society. First, when it comes to domestic violence, the Bryce Report said that there is a problem when it comes to domestic violence in same-sex relationships - not because of the law, but because people don't want to access it. Often there can be greater marginalisation or victimisation in same-sex relationships. Domestic violence occurs in same-sex relationships (the research is pretty sparse) at least at the same rate as the wider community, maybe slightly higher, because it is a smaller community, and there are higher rates of drug and alcohol use - disinhibitors. There are some unique features, like the threat to out, the threat to reveal a partner's HIV status or make a false statement about it. Because it is a small community, there's often just one 'gay pub' that everyone goes to. If you split up from your partner and want to go out socially, your ex may tell everyone, and you show up to that one place and find that you are a pariah, and you may have to leave town. Bryce has certainly called for more information and more education to help those in same-sex relationships dealing with domestic violence.

But trans people are also more at risk of domestic violence because they are treated as very much on the outer, and I think that's particularly a problem. They are in a much weaker position. When you get to the family court, the kinds of cases that are now popping up are where, for instance, the wife has decided that the relationship is over because she can't handle her husband transitioning, then says to the children "Your new mum is just dreadful." That dynamic is now playing out in the family courts."

Jocelyn: "It's so complex because, in the fight for marriage equality, we want to present this idea of 'This is what a gay couple looks like' as so perfect and one-dimensionally awesome, but at the same time, we want to address these issues of domestic violence and so on - it's really hard to do both at the same time."

Wil: "And it feels like marriage equality does overshadow most other issues, but it is quite nice to see things like Caitlyn Jenner and what has been happening with the trans community coming out into the spotlight"

Jocelyn: "So, I wanted to talk a little more specifically about surrogacy. As a starting point, with Medicare that the moment, for women accessing IVF for the purpose of surrogacy, is it correct that they still can't claim that on Medicare?"

Stephen: "Yes and no. You can't claim Medicare for IVF services once the surrogacy arrangement is in place, but if you are clever about it, you use Medicare to create the embryos, then subsequently enter a surrogacy arrangement. So you can get a subsidy from the Government. It's really hard for the Government to say that it is for the purpose of surrogacy.

So the obvious question is, what happens if two gay guys want to create embryos, neither of whom obviously can get pregnant, is the IVF clinic going to rely on state legislation to discriminate? Or is it going to be more concerned about Commonwealth legislation that it shouldn't discriminate? They provide the service, and they get the subsidy."

Jocelyn: "So, in practice, it's not much of a problem?"

Stephen: "Well, it can make a difference, but people have to be clever about it. The Medicare regulations are changed annually, though you can't find them on Austlii, as I discovered. You find them on Comlaw, and once you get into it, then your eyes start to spin, til finally you get your answer."

Jocelyn: "There's been a lot of talk, which pops up from time to time, about altruistic surrogacy and commercial surrogacy, and that debate, particularly following stories of people going to Thailand, and the issues for children and women. What do you think is the way forward, with people who want to go down the commercial route?"

Baby Gammy, via ABC.

Baby Gammy, via ABC.

Stephen: "It's now about a year since the baby Gammy saga started, and it's not over yet. I spent a lot of time talking to the media, and the question they were often asking was, "How do you prevent this kind of thing from happening again?" I said that it's an issue of supply and demand. Infertility in Australia is, according to the doctors, the third biggest disease (the top two being cancer and heart disease). It affects one in six couples. Often, it's fixed by IVF, but also by egg donor or sperm donor, or the option of last resort: surrogacy.

Everyone focuses on surrogacy, but egg donation is also an interesting one. To make a baby, to state the obvious, you need sperm, an egg, and a woman with a viable uterus to carry the child. The last one is the surrogate if you can't do it yourself - but what about the first two? Sperm is usually pretty easily to get a hold of. If there's not an adequate supply here, then sperm donors from the United States or Denmark will happily supply sperm to Australians.

But with egg donors, there is often a shortage. Our laws make it an offence, punishable by up to 15 years, to pay an egg donor, other than her out of pocket expenses. The American Society of Reproductive Medicine has estimated that for a sperm donor in the United States, the whole process (including counselling) takes about an hour. I wonder how much of that hour counselling takes... But an egg donor takes 50 hours, and she goes through a lot more pain.

The result is that we have a shortage of egg donors in Australia, so Australians have then ventured across the globe. You can imagine there might be a married couple where his sperm is okay, but her eggs are duds. They might end up in places like Argentina, Spain, Greece, USA, and as we've known in the past, India, Thailand, Ukraine, Georgia, Cyprus and Mexico, for example. In many of those places, the law or practice is that you will never know who the donor is - which I just think is terrible. I think the first thing is to say that if we look at the whole equation, we should have the ability to pay donors, so that these women who go through this pain are actually recognised.

We can't control what happens in the outside world - some want complete anonymity of donors. If we enable it to occur here, then we reduce demand so that people don't go overseas. I think Australia has the ability to adequately protect human rights - I would feel much more confident about that than in a place like Ukraine.

The other part of the equation is surrogacy. What we've seen is that Australians have similarly gone around the world. Since baby Gammy, and Thailand closing down and India virtually saying "no" to most Australians, where do Australians go? Increasingly, if they are from Queensland and New South Wales, they might go to Canada, but those are small numbers. They are also going to Mexico and Nepal, which are places not renowned for governance, or wealth - at least in the hands of the many - and they don't have transparent systems.

There are sharks in the water, and when you deal with desperate people who can't have children, who go to a developing country where there aren't transparent processes, then you are asking for trouble. It may all go through smoothly, but it may all be a complete disaster. I think we have the capacity in our country to have adequate human rights protections for surrogates. Talking to women who are surrogates in the United States and Australia, the motivations aren't terribly different. Their prime motivation is to help others. These are women who have had kids before, don't want to have any more, love being pregnant and don't mind childbirth.

Even though I've been highly critical of how we've organised surrogacy in Australia because I think it's a bit ramshackled, on a state-by-state basis and inconsistent - when one looks at what the strengths are of our system, it is that everyone gets independent legal advice at the beginning, everyone has really clear counselling, and at the end of the process, we have judicial oversight. If you look at places where there has been trouble - India at times, Mexico at times - in all those places, there has been an absence of judicial oversight. Judges aren't looking at it and asking "Is this in the best interests of the child?"

On the other hand, if you look at the United States and Canada, which are both transparent systems, it is the same, wherein you have a judge overlooking it. So going back to the question of how we avoid baby Gammy, you reduce demand by having it happen here. You increase the supply, you reduce the number of Australians wanting to go overseas. We have very good IVF clinics in Australia. If you could go to the IVF clinic around the corner, why would you go to Nepal?

I think another feature is that you have the Australian Government saying to overseas governments to make changes, but I think the entrenched interests of certain doctors or government might be to resist that - but we should still be asking. We should be engaging with the Fertility Doctors Associations, to use the soft power that Australia has to encourage better standards.

The other way to do it is to have an international architecture. A lot of the journalists were asking about the international laws regarding surrogacy, to which I replied "What laws?" They just assumed that there was a system, but there isn't one. There have been moves since 2010 for there to be a Hague Convention on international surrogacy. With the Hague Conference of Private International Law, we have the Hague Bureau, and Australia is party to a number of conventions to do with children, including the 1980 convention on child abduction, and the Hague inter-country adoption convention. There are various proposals about how a Hague convention might work, and I'm at the centre of one of those proposals because of my position with the American Bar Association."

Jocelyn: "As for adoption in Australia, it has been notoriously difficult. Even though it should technically be higher up on the list than surrogacy, it often isn't. What do you see as the avenues for reform to help make the process easier, or faster?"

Stephen: "One area of reform will actually make it slower, and that is in the four jurisdictions where there is discrimination. There should be no discrimination in Queensland, for instance, against single people adopting or same-sex couples adopting. That would mean that the pool of applicants becomes bigger, and therefore it might be slower for those who are already there. However, it's the fair thing to do.

The reality is that there's very few children available for adoption. You might wonder how we got 10,000 kids back in the 1970s when Australia was a lot smaller? Well that was back when we removed children from their mothers by nuns. We've had a national apology about that. Now, I don't know how low the numbers are, but they are under 100 nationwide, unless they are from care, or step-parent adoptions. There's a few hundred who are from overseas.

We know that the reform to enable women to not give up their children, by having Centrelink payments, that shouldn't change, and we shouldn't be trying to disempower anyone.

However, there is a very large number of children in foster care who are moved from placement and have no certainty, under some legal assumption that, one day, they'll get back together with their family. It's wishful thinking - it's something that comes straight out of Pollyanna. I think it was Tim Carmody, who as we know is not flavour of the month at the moment, but I think he identified that if many of these children were able to be adopted out, we would potentially solve two problems at the same time. We would provide certainty for these children, which has got to be the number one priority, but also the legitimate desires of people who can't have children, to care for children.

If we could do that, then I can tell you that many of the people who come through the door of my office who want to talk about surrogacy - they only look at surrogacy a lot of the time when they can't adopt. We would reduce the demand, at least to some degree.

However, we know that some people have waited a very long time for adoption overseas. The Hague convention has made it more difficult. That is why the Abbott government has, quite rightly, been looking at bilateral agreements with other countries to allow adoption to occur. I think the numbers are still going to remain low for structural reasons.

One of the amazing things that is happening, is that the people of China have lifted themselves out of poverty, the people of India are lifting themselves out of poverty - slower than we'd like, but it's happening. A side effect of that that children who were previously available from those societies are not now. There has been a rise of nationalism, but in addition (I think the New York Times reported), US citizens who are of Indian origins used to adopt Indian children, but they are not available anymore, because they are being adopted by the Indian middle class, in India - they aren't leaving the country at all.

That kind of structural change will continue. The children being made available now from China in the last few years are typically aged 2-3 years old and have a disability. There will be people who want to adopt a child like that because it's a child, and they can provide the child with love and care. But it just goes to show that the number of children who are available is much lower.

The migration regulations prevent Australians from adoption from overseas, unless they've lived there for at least a year for some other purpose. So they can't do a Madonna, get in a private jet, fly to Malawi and pick up a kid, come back and say "Life's good" - you can't do that if you're Australian. I don't think that necessarily needs to change, but I think there certainly needs to be changed about how he Hague convention operates.

I don’t think anyone in their right minds would want to risk human rights, but we don’t want to make it so bureaucratic that it just doesn’t work.

My concern is that a Hague surrogacy convention might be as restrictive as the adoption convention. While it looks pure and great, it becomes a roadblock. I don't think anyone in their right minds would want to risk human rights, but we don't want to make it so bureaucratic that it just doesn't work. I recall being in a seminar in London, where an academic was saying "We want to copy the Hague adoption convention for surrogacy, because it's a success." Up stood the president of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, who said "If it's such a success, how come the numbers have dropped so much?" It's because the convention is a roadblock. It is a lot harder to adopt in Australia, and I think unnecessarily so.

Adoption, internationally, is still discriminatory against gay and lesbian couples. Australia should be, as part of its diplomatic efforts, talking to other countries and adopt Hillary Clinton's line that 'Gay rights are human rights.' But of course, it's hard to do that when we still say 'But we won't let them marry!'"

Wil: "Putting an LGBTI perspective on it, a lot of the younger generation talk about adoption as if it's a non-issue - they say 'We'll just have kids that way'..."

Stephen: [laughs incredulously] "How long do they want to wait?? Under the law of demand, they've got to make an election: IVF or adoption. What a terrible choice!

Let's say they choose adoption - then they have to decide which country's list they are going to be on. So those poor people who were on the list from Ethiopia three years ago, when the Federal Government said that they were concerned about children being sold in Ethiopia, so they closed the list. Fair call, we don't want kids bought and sold like chattels, but if you are on that list, the first you hear of it is a media report saying that they are off the list. They may have waited five or six years on that list, only to discover that they are back at the beginning again. That's cruel."

Jocelyn: "Is there a final message you would give to our readers, particularly the law students?"

Stephen: "When I went through law school, which was at what is now QUT..."

Jocelyn: "Traitor." [laughter]

Stephen: "... but I have a lot of affection for UQ. When I went through law school, I never thought I would be doing family law. I didn't think it was 'real' law - not like trusts or commercial or land law, which really interested me. Somehow I ended up in a law practice with a fire-breathing dragon, but who loved her clients and they loved her. As a result of that, I thought 'Family law is the area for me, because I want to help people.' Then my practice evolved. I started to do a lot of domestic violence work - I was shocked by it and by the extent of it. Then I started acting for gay and lesbian clients, and the occasional trans client. Then, by a combination of forethought, and being in the right place at the right time, I started doing all this surrogacy work.

When I was at law school, I got a book called "The Body as Property." I read that and thought it was all very esoteric. It was the kind of discussion about 'When does life begin?' I thought, "I'm going to be a lawyer, when will I ever deal with that?" Then, in 2012, I got an order from a judge about when a child is 'conceived' and that was the first time that decision had been made by any judge anywhere in the world. 

Just so that you know what the answer is: we had a surrogacy arrangement, and under the Surrogacy Act 2010 (Qld), the surrogacy agreement must be signed before the child was conceived - but there's no definition of conception. There are two occasions which might be conception: we might say it is fertilisation, when we create the embryos; or, the later point, which is the placing of the embryo in the woman's body, resulting in a pregnancy. I was concerned that if we had a judge, who said it was the former, many people would not be able to have their surrogacy arrangements in place. There are lots of frozen embryos sitting around IVF clinics.

Her Honour Judge Leanne Clare SC

Her Honour Judge Leanne Clare SC

In this particular case, the mum-to-be had had cancer, so she was told to get her eggs out and fertilised, and froze them. As a result of her cancer, she wasn't able to carry a child. Her sister came along and offered to carry a child, and they entered into a surrogacy arrangement with all the counselling and legal advice. The child was born and we were in court, and Justice Leanne Clare ruled that conception was the act of pregnancy. That's when people consider a child to be conceived: when a woman gets pregnant.

Her Honour looked at what the ordinary person thinks, and looked at all the legal definitions we could find and medical dictionaries - I spent hours researching this.

In 2011, I went over the USA for the world's first international surrogacy conference, and I asked whether anyone had a case about conception. The general response was "No, but that's really interesting! Let us know how you go." I blogged about the outcome, and it just shows the power of the internet, because within 12 hours, I got an email from someone in Philadelphia. He said that the case was ground breaking, and asked for the written reasons, which I didn't have yet. Then I got a second email from a woman in Mendoza, Argentina, saying that she was rewriting the surrogacy law there, and she also wanted a copy of the written reasons.

At university, I never would have dreamt that I would be looking at 'When does life begin?' But you just make the most of what life offers up to you. I had a vision some years ago to have a national practice with surrogacy, and I've been very lucky in that space - I've been quite determined - but ultimately you don't know how it's going to go. You just have to go with the journey."

Wil & Jocelyn: "Thank you so much for your time!"