The ACL's Mark Brown had an opinion piece published in The Examiner
and The Advocate
on May 13, 2012. A copy of Mark's opinion piece is below.Christian lobby: Every child has a right to a mother It is not our right to impose a motherless Mothers’ Day on a child.In our increasingly “rights” focused society, children’s rights, even to have a mother, are being increasingly overlooked.There are increasing numbers of children who are at risk of growing up never knowing the joy of giving mum a mothers’ day card.This is not because of tragedy, relationship breakdown or desertion; it is because adults decided they would be raised separated from their biological mother before they were born.The Tasmanian Government, which we would expect to protect the rights of children, is potentially about to legislate this breach of kids’ rights into realityThe soon-to-be-voted on surrogacy legislation, which claims to uphold the best interests of children, will allow for singles and same-sex couples to acquire babies.The question is: Does a child possess a right to at least begin life (and ideally grow up) in a naturally-occurring family environment wherever possible?Everyone agrees rights are important, especially when they relate to us. But what happens when one person’s perceived rights clash with another’s? How do we decide whose rights are more legitimate - especially when children are completely voiceless in this decision?A right is defined as a just claim or title, whether legal, prescriptive or moral.So by nature rights have an aspect of justice and hence morality. What we are talking about then is also a clash of morals, what we perceive to be right and wrong.In a pluralistic society we don’t all follow the same belief system that shapes our morality and we look to government to show moral leadership in determining the common good.One of the key manifestations of this is in the way leaders protect society's most vulnerable, especially its children.As might be expected, research tells us that children do better on virtually every indicator when raised by a mother and a father than their counterparts, and numerous studies have reported the positive influence that a mother and father have on a child’s development.Of course this is not to say that same-sex couples are incapable of raising well-adjusted children. However, they cannot ever replace the missing biological parent which must be deliberately excluded from the child’s raising.Mothers’ day is a day when we celebrate the important contribution our mums make to our lives. Research tells us how the maternal role effectively reduces behavioural problems in children, as emotional and relational development seems to be passed through the maternal figure.World renowned Tasmanian parenting author and psychologist Steve Biddulph, reports “…mother-baby interaction, in the first year especially, is the very foundation of human emotions and intelligence. In the most essential terms, love grows the brain. The capacities for what make us most human – empathy, co-operation, intimacy, the fine timing and sensitivity that makes a human being charismatic, loving, and self-assured – are passed from mother to baby…”Laws which allow a single man or two men to acquire a baby through surrogacy will deny this right of a child.Clearly our children should be given every opportunity to grow and thrive in as natural, or as near to natural, an environment as we can give them.So too we expect legislators to ensure children get the best opportunities to shine emotionally, relationally and psychologically and not bow to pressure groups who would advocate otherwise.The Parliament clearly should reject the surrogacy legislation, particularly the aspects which sever a child from her biological mother or father.Sure, not everyone will be happy - toes will be stepped on. The question is whose toes would we rather be stepping on – adults' or children’s?It is not our right to impose a motherless mothers’ day on any child.