A number of amendments to the eighth edition of the code came into force this week, with the most significant affecting the status of the ‘intended’ (commissioning) parent or parents in surrogacy arrangements.
Under the previous rules, the intended parents were classed as donors if they provided sperm or ova and they did not become the legal parents of the child until they were granted a parental order, permanently removing the status of parent from the birth mother.
Under the changes, however, the intended parents are no longer be relegated to the status of donors and one of the couple can, under certain conditions, become one of the child’s legal two legal parents at the birth of the child, along with the surrogate mother. The latter remains the child’s legal mother until the parental order is granted.
The inclusion of an intended parent is only permitted if the surrogate mother is neither married nor in a civil partnership, and has given the necessary legal consents.
If the child’s biological father is part of the commissioning couple, they will be recognised as the father on birth. Otherwise one of the couple can be nominated as the other legal parent.
If the mother is married or in a civil partnership, their spouse remains the other legal parent until the parental order, except in certain circumstances (for instance, if the couple have separated).
The ‘intended parents’ will still need to obtain a parental order.
The HFEA explained:
“…in the light of new legal advice and consideration of how best to protect all those involved in a surrogacy arrangement, the Authority decided to change its guidance to make it possible for one of the intended parents to become the second parent upon birth of the child, prior to granting a Parental Order.”