Legal Reform for Surrogacy

Legal Reform for Surrogacy

Surrogacy UK calls for urgent legal reform for surrogacy

I am a mum to four year old twin girls born through surrogacy and a trustee of Surrogacy UK. Six months ago myself and the chair of Surrogacy UK, a three times surrogate, set up a working group to examine the regulation of UK surrogacy.

After many months of hard work, analysis and discussion, not to mention the largest surrogacy survey ever undertaken in the UK, we are proud to publish a landmark report that provides unprecedented insight into the way that surrogacy is practiced in the UK and calls for legal reform in order to:

  • Ensure that the welfare and interests of surrogate-born children are of prime concern
  • Remove uncertainty over parenthood
  • Broaden access to surrogacy

The report is endorsed by leading academics and policy influencers; Mary Warnock, Professor Margot Brazier and Professor Susan Golombok.

A short video has been produced to summarise the report findings. You can see it by clicking on the image below:

We need your help to make these changes happen.

Please write to your MP and ask them to support legal reform. Even better, visit your MP’s surgery and voice your concerns to them directly. You can find out who your local MP is here.

You can also contact your MP via email. We have prepared a template email for you to use – all you need to do is put in a few details – just click here.

The working group on surrogacy reform consists of: Natalie Smith, trustee, Surrogacy UK; Sarah Jones, chairperson, Surrogacy UK; Dr Kirsty Horsey, senior lecturer, Kent Law School; Louisa Ghevaert, partner, Michelmores LLP; and Sarah Norcross, director, Progress Educational Trust.

If you’d like to talk to someone about the working group, the report or reform please contact natalie.smith@surrogacyuk.org.

About the report:

‘Surrogacy in the UK: Myth busting and reform’ gives a much needed evidence base from which to draft reform and busts a number of surrogacy myths that have pervaded the debate until now.

According to the report, published by Surrogacy UK, and written by Dr Kirsty Horsey (a legal academic who has been researching surrogacy and the law for over 18 years), far fewer Britons seek surrogacy overseas than had been previously thought. This dispels the myth that international surrogacy has become commonplace for intended parents from the UK.

The report also shows that there is widespread rejection of any move towards commercialisation of surrogacy. The overwhelming majority of surrogacy in the UK is undertaken by women on an altruistic basis with most UK surrogates receiving less than £15,000 for out-of-pocket expenses incurred, demonstrating that surrogacy is a relationship and not a transaction.

Also highlighted by the report is the overwhelming support (75% of survey respondents) for legal reform in order better to represent how UK surrogacy works in practice. The report shows that both surrogates and intended parents want to remove the legal uncertainty over parenthood at the point of birth. At the moment legal parenthood rests with the surrogate at birth. The intended parents must apply after birth for a parental order, which can take several months. In the meantime they have no legal rights and the child is left in legal limbo. The report finds that 69% of surrogates are opposed to being able to change their mind about giving a baby back to its intended parents. Only 5% believe that a surrogate should be able to change her mind at any point.

The full press release can be read here.

Recommendations for reform:

We urge the UK Government law and policy makers to consider our recommendations and make much needed change to the legal framework governing surrogacy. Namely:

  • The principle of altruistic surrogacy, which operates in the UK must be protected to reflect that surrogacy is a relationship, not a transaction.
  • Parental orders should be pre-authorised so that legal parenthood is conferred on intended parents at birth.
  • Intended parents should register the birth.
  • Parental orders should be available to single people who use surrogacy.
  • Parental orders should be available to IPs where neither partner has used their own gametes (‘double donation’).
  • The time limit for applying for a parental order should be removed.
  • Parental order/surrogacy birth data should be centrally and transparently collected and published annually.
  • IVF surrogacy cycles and births should be accurately recorded by fertility clinics/ Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).
  • NHS funding should be made available for IVF surrogacy in line with NICE guidelines.
  • The rules on surrogacy-related advertising and the criminalisation of this should be reviewed in the context of non-profit organisations.

We also recommend the following actions for government:

  • The Department of Health, in consultation with the surrogacy community, should draft and publish a ‘legal pathway’ document for IPs and surrogates.
  • The Department of Health should produce guidance for professionals in the field, written in consultation with the surrogacy community for midwives and hospitals, Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) and clinics.
  • Surrogacy should be included in schools’ sex and relationships education (SRE) classroom curriculum (from primary) – linked to awareness of (in)fertility, family options for same sex partners etc.

More information on the findings of the report can be found here

If you want any more information on this please contact natalie.smith@surrogacyuk.org

Media Coverage:

The following stories have appeared in the press in relation to this story:

The Guardian – The kindness of strangers: should surrogates get paid?

Family Law Week – Report calls for urgent legal reform for surrogacy

Stowe Family Law – UK surrogates reject commercialisation

Family Law – Landmark report shines light on the practice of surrogacy in the UK…

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