Another step forward in surrogacy reform

Surrogacy|June 6th 2019

This morning, Thursday 6 June, the Law Commission released their consultation paper on surrogacy reform, and their thoughts, proposals and recommendations make up a 498 page report

At the time of writing, I haven’t read the report cover to cover yet despite getting a sneak preview a couple of days ago, however, by way of a summary the Law Commission has covered every aspect of this complex area in law, and I have broadly summarised their proposals as follows:

A new pathway to legal parenthood

This is designed to create the possibility of the intended parents being recognised as the legal parents of a child born through surrogacy from the time of birth. It focuses on the intentions of those involved and won’t require the intended parents to make an application to the Court. There will be safeguards in place, for example, if the surrogate objects to the agreement following the birth but it is designed to ensure there is more legal certainty for all those entering into surrogacy arrangements in the UK.

A continuation of the existing parental order process

The parental order route will remain in circumstances where the new pathway doesn’t apply, and this will largely cover international arrangements. This will remain similar to current Court process, but the Law Commission is proposing some changes to the existing criteria and processes to achieve further clarity for intended parents and to make the process easier overall.

Greater regulation is proposed for surrogacy arrangements

This suggests that surrogacy organisations could be regulated and could then oversee the arrangements which fall inside the new pathway.

A national surrogacy register

A national surrogacy register is suggested which will record the details of the surrogate, the intended parents and any egg/sperm donor involved in the arrangement. This will be accessible to surrogate children, with non-identifying information being available at the age of 16 and identifying information at the age of 18.

Payments

The report identifies the difficulties and contrasting views of those already consulted in relation to surrogacy payment. As a result, they have not yet been able to make any provisional proposals on this. However, they have commented on the different categories of payments which they propose that a surrogate may be able to receive and seek views on whether these payments should be allowed.

These categories of payments are:

  •    Compensation for pain, inconvenience, medical complications or death of the surrogate
  •    Loss of earnings from being a surrogate
  •    Essential costs of a pregnancy
  •    Additional costs of a pregnancy
  •    Costs associated with a surrogate pregnancy
  •    Gifts
  •    Compensation for loss of welfare entitlement

Nationality/passports

It proposes streamlining and shortening the process to obtain a passport/a visa in international surrogacy cases.

Next steps

Within the report, 118 questions are asked of the public in respect of their proposals, and a formal consultation period will now begin. This culminates on 27 September 2019 and so if you would like your view, now is the time to act.

Here at Stowe Family Law, the surrogacy team will certainly be putting forward their views and comments, and if you have any questions about the report or any of the wider legal issues please do not hesitate to get in touch with me at bethan.carr@stowefamilylaw.co.uk

Bethan advises on all aspects of family law and is a specialist in domestic and international surrogacy arrangements. Following her training in a niche fertility law firm, she has experience of fertility cases involving legal parentage and donor conception.

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