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Maternity rights for women using surrogate mothers raised in Parliament

23 April 2012

By Dr Lux Fatimathas

Appeared in BioNews 653

Former shadow health secretary Mr John Healey has called for mothers of children conceived using a surrogate to be given equal maternity pay, leave and rights as other mothers. Currently mothers who use surrogates are entitled to 13 weeks unpaid leave, in contrast to mothers who adopt or conceive themselves, who are entitled to 52 weeks leave with 39 weeks maternity pay.

'There are probably about 100 children born in this country each year by surrogate mums. The number is growing, society is changing and the law needs to catch up', said Healey, MP for Wentworth and Dearne. 'Maternity rights are there to help mothers and their newly born babies through the earliest months of the child's life, when time together is most needed'.

Healey raised this disparity in maternity rights in the House of Commons, following the case of his local constituent Mrs Jane Kassim, who recently had twin girls through surrogacy. Kassim, who works as a teaching assistant in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, was informed that she would not be entitled to standard maternity leave and pay as she had used a surrogate. Furthermore, she would require parental rights to be transferred over from the surrogate after the birth, before she would be entitled to 13 weeks unpaid leave.

'Surely there must be a good case for Britain, like some states in the USA to have a system of pre-birth orders. But the first and most important step is to secure basic maternity rights so that mothers like Jane who have their children born through surrogates have the same rights as any other mothers who give birth themselves or indeed who adopt children', said Healey.

The 'legal loophole' highlighted by Healey was put forth in a Ten Minute Rule Bill - a means by which new legislation can be introduced to Parliament. This bill was unopposed and has therefore been listed for a second reading where it will be given further consideration. A spokesman for Rotherham Borough Council said: 'Clearly we would welcome any changes to legislation which would benefit families and children'.

Equal rights bid for surrogate mums
Press Association | 19 April 2012
Express | 19 April 2012
Telegraph | 19 April 2012
Daily Mirror | 19 April 2012
Natalie Gamble Associates (blog) | 17 April 2012


30 September 2013 - by Dr Louisa Petchey 
Uncertainty in EU law over the issue of surrogacy and the right to paid maternity leave deepened this week after expert advisors to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) gave opposing recommendations on separate but similar cases....
10 December 2012 - by Sabreena Mahroof 
'…and naturally you realise you will not be entitled to Maternity leave….'...
26 November 2012 - by Sarah Pritchard 
The right to maternity leave in the UK will be extended to parents of children born through surrogacy, under proposed changes to rules on parental leave recently announced by the Government....

05 March 2012 - by James Brooks 
The Court of Appeal in Rennes, France, has upheld an earlier decision to accord civil status – similar to nationality – to twins carried by a surrogate mother in India for a French couple...
05 March 2012 - by Fiona Duffy 
The long-awaited guidelines for Irish couples who have children born abroad through surrogacy, issued on 21 February, have all but avoided some of the most fundamental legal issues surrounding surrogacy...
09 January 2012 - by Annabel Christie 
A new surrogacy law in South Africa suggests a way to improve those in the UK – by making surrogacy agreements enforceable. In the UK, commissioning parents can only find out after the child is born if they can become the legal parents...
21 November 2011 - by Antony Blackburn-Starza 
An advisor to the Irish Government on child protection has expressed his 'profound concern' that failing to legislate in the area of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) may result in children's rights being violated....
29 October 2009 - by Nishat Hyder 
Following new UK government guidelines on surrogacy published last month aimed at improving the rights of surrogacy patients, Ministers are now facing a new legal challenge calling for further changes in the law....

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