Since the first UK surrogacy case hit the headlines in 1985 with the birth of Baby Cotton, surrogacy law has been evolving in the UK, and indeed throughout the world. As the pool of adoptable babies continues to shrink, the growth of surrogacy as a means of supporting childless couples to start their families is a trend that is likely to continue.
Countries such as the US and the Ukraine offer tailor-made commercial surrogacy packages to childless couples and these packages offer the chance for UK families to start their surrogacy journey with little or no delay. But while the surrogacy arrangement itself may be easy to set up, there are complications that can follow when the intended parents seek to return to the UK with their new baby.
UK surrogacy is not without its problems either, and the family courts have had to grapple with the welfare of children born through surrogacy when the relationship between the surrogate and the intended family has broken down somewhere down the line after conception of the child. The current state of the law governing the transfer of parenthood under UK law from the surrogate and her husband to the intended parents is arguably unfit for purpose.
Currently, the Joint Committee on Human Rights is scrutinising the governments proposed Reform Order to allow single persons to apply to the court for a parental order. The Law Commission has recently confirmed that it is including Surrogacy Law within its 13th programme of law reform.
The aim in writing Surrogacy: Law Practice and Policy in England and Wales has always been to provide a comprehensive overview of this complex area of law and practice. Of course it sets out the law governing attribution of parenthood when children are born as the result of Assisted Reproductive Techniques (ART), surrogacy and parental orders, but it goes much further than that.
Surrogacy: Law Practice and Policy in England and Wales covers employment rights for both surrogates and their partners as well as intended parents, and also looks at the immigration issues which arise when a child is born overseas as a result of a surrogacy arrangement. Lillian Odze shares the conclusions of her research on the impact on families, and particularly the child, of family secrets in relation to a child’s origins. Finally, the book explores some of the difficulties that the current legal framework poses and makes suggestions which hopefully will provide food for thought to policy makers who are considering the extent to which law reform is needed.