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Is surrogacy becoming normal?

13 December 1999
By Juliet Tizzard
Director, Progress Educational Trust
Appeared in BioNews 38
There's a case currently being heard in the English High Court which may have a revolutionary impact upon assisted reproduction. Margaret Briody is seeking damages of £200,000 in order, amongst other things, to pay for a surrogate mother to carry a child for her. Because of negligent medical care at her local hospital, Ms Briody ended up having a hysterectomy, leaving her unable to have a child by natural means.

Some aspect of the case might make it a difficult one to win. Ms Briody plans to have her own eggs (she still has her ovaries) fertilised by her partner's sperm. The resulting embryos will then be transferred to a surrogate, who will carry the embryo to term. But her chance of success by using her own eggs is very slim. If this doesn't work, Ms Briody proposes to use donor eggs and surrogacy in order to have the child she seeks. But this, again, has no guarantees. Whether this has any bearing on whether damages will be awarded or not remains to be seen. But there must surely be a question mark over awarding damages for something which may not satisfy the plaintiff. Should damages be awarded so that someone can take advantage of such a slim chance of restoration?

But if Ms Briody wins her case for damages, the social outcomes - if not the legal ones - will be far reaching. It will mean that surrogacy arrangements take one step closer towards being accepted as a legitimate treatment for infertility. It damages are awarded for the cost of a surrogacy arrangement, it will enjoy the same status as, for example, social care for someone negligently disabled by a medical accident. If such a thing happens, surrogacy may come to be seen as acceptable.

27 October 2009 - by Natalie Gamble and Louisa Ghevaert 
Of all the prospective parents conceiving through assisted reproduction, those in surrogacy arrangements often face the most difficult legal issues. The surrogate and usually also her husband will be treated as the child's legal parents at birth, leaving the commissioning parents with no legal connection with their child whatsoever, even where both are the biological parents....
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