Law Commission of England and Wales and the Scottish Law Commission have announced today that the laws around surrogacy are outdated and should be improved to better support the child, surrogates and intended parents.
Surrogacy is where a woman bears a child on behalf of someone else or a couple, who then intend to become the child’s parents (the intended parents). Surrogacy is legal in the UK and is recognised by the Government as a legitimate form of building a family.
However, change is needed to make sure the law works for everyone involved. To reflect the wishes of surrogates and intended parents, the Law Commissions are proposing to allow intended parents to become legal parents when the child is born, subject to the surrogate retaining a right to object for a short period after the birth.
This would replace the current system where the intended parents must make an application to the court after the child has been born, and do not become legal parents until the court grants them a parental order. The process can take many months to complete.
Sir Nicholas Green, Chair of the Law Commission said:
“More and more people are turning to surrogacy to have a child and start their family. We therefore need to make sure that the process is meeting the needs of all those involved.
However, the laws around surrogacy are outdated and no longer fit for purpose.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.”
Dustin Lance Black, 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. I hope as many people as possible can get involved and respond.”
Hannah Saxe, senior associate at Irwin Mitchell said:
“The announcement today on the Law Commission’s consultation for surrogacy law is fantastic news. There needs to be greater clarity about the law so that the people involved in the process are better informed. This in turn should lead to fewer surrogacy arrangements not working out and will therefore ensure that those involved are better protected. The proposed legal pathway should also ensure that the intended parents’ legal status reflects the reality of the arrangements ‘on the ground’ for them and their child.
Hopefully the legal reform in this area at the start of the year which meant that single people can now apply for Parental Orders (previously the applications had to be made by a couple in an enduring relationship) signals the willingness of parliament to address the shortcomings in this area of law.”
The Law Commissions’ consultation closes on 27 September 2019. Find out more, including how to respond, here.