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'Outdated and inadequate' UK surrogacy laws set for reform

8 May 2018
Appeared in BioNews 948

The Law Commission of England and Wales and the Scottish Law Commission, have announced that they will review the law around surrogacy and make recommendations for reform. 

As part of a three-year project, the two bodies tasked with keeping the law under review will examine legal parenthood and the regulation of surrogacy more widely. 

'Our society has moved on from when surrogacy laws were first introduced 30 years ago and, now, they are not fit for purpose,' said Law Commissioner for England and Wales Professor Nick Hopkins. 'Now we want all those with an interest to get involved and help us make the law fit for the modern world.'

The Law Commissions highlighted significant problems with the law on surrogacy, including difficulties with parental orders needed to transfer parentage from the surrogate mother to the intended parents, which can only be obtained after the child is born, and how surrogacy is regulated more broadly. They said the uncertainty of the current law may encourage surrogacy arrangements overseas, which raises concerns about the exploitation of surrogates. 

There have been a number of high-profile calls for surrogacy reform from the judiciary, academics, and those involved in surrogacy-related areas (see BioNews 831). A working group set up by Surrogacy UK and others including Sarah Norcross, Director of the Progress Educational Trust, which publishes BioNews, and Dr Kirsty Horsey of the University of Kent and Contributing Editor at BioNews, to highlight the need for reform. 

In 2016, Sir James Munby, the President of the Family Division, declared some parts of UK surrogacy law incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights (See BioNews 852). The decision forced the UK Government to draft remedial order to change surrogacy law for single parents and also prompted it to show support for a review of the law by the Law Commission (see BioNews 931). 

More recently, an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), which is working closely with the Surrogacy UK Working Group, has also been established to review surrogacy law and promote debate on the issue. 

Speaking to BioNews, Andrew Percy MP, Chair of the APPG on Surrogacy, thanked the Surrogacy UK Working Group and said:

'The Department of Health sees the need for surrogacy laws to be reviewed and has given the Law Commission this funding to ensure that these laws reflect the needs of surrogates, parents and their children.

'The APPG will continue to work with the Law Commission to bring these outdated and inadequate laws into the modern world.'

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Government funding agreed for surrogacy law reform
Family Law |  4 May 2018
Surrogacy laws set for reform as Law Commissions get Government backing
Law Commission |  4 May 2018
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