More and more families in the UK are approaching surrogacy as the only option to have children that are genetically linked to them. Before 2008, the court made fewer than 50 parental orders compared to about 300 parental orders made each year now, allowing for the children to be handed over to the parents from the birth mother. Given the rapid increase in families choosing the surrogacy route, experts argue that a reform is well-overdue.
The current law is governed by the Surrogacy Arrangements Act 1985 and certain provisions of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008. The Law Commission will undertake a three-year project to develop law reform recommendations to regulate and improve the surrogacy needs and ensure for the standards to be monitored and kept high and protect the interests of the child, of the intended parents and the surrogate.
At the moment, the intended parents cannot make medical decisions about the child until they have been granted a parental order, which can only happen after the birth of the child. This usually cannot be done until six weeks after the birth of the child, causing a number of problems for the parents.
UK public policy restrictions are designed to discourage commercial surrogacy arrangements and the development of a commercial sector like that in the US. However, UK law does not prohibit intended parents from entering into commercial surrogacy arrangements overseas. Indeed current uncertainty in the law tends to encourage families to make international arrangements, notwithstanding grave concerns about the exploitation of surrogates, particularly in the developing world. The current project will look into the issues addressing the problems and concerns with a view to providing safeguarding in place.
Many professionals working in the fertility sector argue that the rules governing how surrogacy is undertaken need to be fine-tuned to enable granting of parental orders in a more efficient way and deter the exploitation of surrogates abroad. The proposed consultation will enable to put the right laws in place to protect all the parties involved to for the parents, the child and the surrogate.
Read more: A brief history of surrogacy law in the UK.