A government committee has launched a consultation on changes to surrogacy laws which would allow single people to become parents.
Section 54 of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 is the applicable legislation. Currently this states that anyone applying for a parental order to transfer the status of parents from the surrogate mother to themselves must be married, in a civil partnership or part of a committed cohabiting relationship.
However, in 2016 Family Division President Sir James Munby concluded that these restrictions on who can apply for a parental order amounted to discrimination against single people – a breach of Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights. They were also in violation of Article 8: the right to respect for private and family life.
Earlier this year, the government officially announced plans to change the Act in response to Sir James’ ruling. This will be done via a so-called ‘remedial order’ amending the legislation.
A draft of the remedial order was presented to Parliament last month. Health Minister Philip Dunne told the House:
“Surrogacy has an important role to play in our society, helping to create much-wanted families where that might not otherwise be possible. It enables relatives and friends to provide an altruistic gift to people who aren’t able to have a child themselves, and can help people to have their own genetically-related children. The UK Government recognises the value of this in the 21st century where family structures, attitudes and life-styles are much more diverse.”
The draft has now been released by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights for feedback from interested parties. They are seeking opinion in particular on:
*Whether the draft in its current form achieves its aim of removing the Human Rights incompatibilities.
*Whether a remedial order is the right way to proceed.
The deadline for feedback is January 8.
The text of the draft order is available here.