In Depth

Are UK surrogacy laws in need of reform?

Law Commission calls for changes to allow legal recognition of parents from moment of baby’s birth

“Outdated” surrogacy laws should be reformed to allow intended parents to assume that status in the eyes of the law as soon as a baby is born, a consultation by several law reform organisations has proposed.

The current legal process surrounding surrogacy “is cumbersome because new parents have to wait until a court grants them a parental order; that can take many months to complete”, says The Guardian.

The consultation, published by the Law Commission of England and Wales and the Scottish Law Commission, also calls for the establishment of a national register to allow people born through surrogacy to uncover information about their origins and how they were conceived.

Other suggested changes to the existing laws on surrogacy - “which date back to the mid-1980s”, notes The Times - include removing the requirement that intended parents have a genetic link to the child.

Under the proposals, a regulator would be appointed to oversee surrogacy organisations and agreements, set standards, encourage best practice, monitor compliance and publish data.

Sir Nicholas Green, chair of the English and Welsh commission, said: “The laws around surrogacy are outdated and no longer fit for purpose. We think our proposals will create a system that works for the surrogates, the parents and, most importantly, the child.”

The commissions have yet to put forward proposals around the issues of payments to surrogates, but “are seeking views on the matter”, The Times reports.

At the moment, parents are prohibited from making financial payments or providing benefits to surrogates, other than to cover their reasonable expenses.

Welcoming the proposals, Dustin Lance Black, a surrogate father and campaigner, said: “Without our wonderful surrogate and clear surrogacy law, we would not have been able to have our first child or begin building the family we’ve always wanted.

“Good, clear law helps people make stronger, clearer decisions. Solid, definitive surrogacy law in the UK will have the power to keep surrogates, egg donors, intended parents, children, and families safe. This consultation is vital for ensuring the UK succeeds in building the best surrogacy law in the world.”

The consultation closes on 27 September.

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