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UK surrogates call for immediate transfer of parenthood after birth

7 January 2019
Appeared in BioNews 981

Most surrogates think they should be able to claim reasonable expenses for carrying a child for someone else, a new report from Surrogacy UK has found. They also felt that legal parenthood should rest with the intended parents immediately after birth.

The survey was carried out by Kent Law School on behalf of Surrogacy UK's working group on surrogacy law reform. It found that 71 percent of surrogates either agreed or strongly agreed that they should be able to claim verifiable expenses for carrying a child. These results are timely, as the Law Commission is currently reviewing the laws around surrogacy.

In the UK, it is illegal to profit from surrogacy. However, this is an ongoing topic of debate, as many have called for the ban on payments to be lifted. Sir James Munby – the former president of the Family Division of the High Court of Justice – told the annual conference of the Progress Educational Trust, which publishes BioNews that it was time to give 'serious consideration to abolishing the restrictions on commercial surrogacy' (see BioNews 979).

There were 510 responses to the survey, from surrogates, partners of surrogates and intended parents. The aim of the report was to inform the review being undertaken by the Law Commission on surrogacy laws. The report concluded that 'evidence-based reform' of the law was 'necessary.'

At present, the surrogate is legally the mother of the child at birth and this only switches to the parents when a parental order is granted, often months after birth. In the survey, 84 percent of responders thought that this should change, and that legal parenthood should automatically rest with the intended parents at birth.  

Under the current regulations, altruistic surrogacy is legal in the UK but commercial surrogacy is illegal. This means that third parties cannot charge for surrogacy services – such as brokering arrangements – and a surrogate cannot claim for anything beyond expenses incurred. According to the survey results, most people feel that surrogates should be allowed to claim for reasonable expenses, but nothing more.

Dr Kirsty Horsey of Kent Law School, author of the report said: 'The survey proves that altruism remains the overwhelmingly favoured route among UK surrogates. We also saw that financial accessibility of surrogacy was a major concern for intended parents.'

There have been many debates in recent years on surrogacy law reform (see BioNews 882) . Research has shown that altruistic surrogacy is increasing in the UK.

Speaking to Surrogacy UK, Sarah Jones, who has been a surrogate for three different UK couples said: 'Surrogacy isn’t a job. We do it because we are passionate about making families, not money. Being paid anything more than expenses would change the relationship we have with the parents and would put most surrogates off doing it.'

It was announced in 2017 that the Law Commission would review surrogacy law and the consultation paper is due to be presented in the spring of 2019.

Most surrogates want to give up their parental rights from birth, reveals survey
Daily Mail |  31 December 2018
Surrogates do not support calls for commercial surrogacy in the UK
Surrogacy UK |  31 December 2018
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