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Report calls for urgent legal reform for surrogacy

Far fewer Britons seek surrogacy overseas than previously thought

A new report, published by Surrogacy UK, claims to dispel many of the myths concerning international surrogacy and brings into focus the practice of surrogacy in the UK. The report, endorsed by Mary Warnock, Professor Margot Brazier and Professor Susan Golombok. calls for reform of surrogacy law.

According to the report – Surrogacy in the UK: Myth busting and reform – written by Dr Kirsty Horsey of University of Kent, far fewer Britons seek surrogacy overseas than had been previously thought, so dispelling the myth that international surrogacy has become commonplace for intended parents from the UK.

The report also shows that there is widespread rejection of any move towards commercialisation of surrogacy. The overwhelming majority of surrogacy in the UK is undertaken by women on an altruistic basis with most UK surrogates receiving less than £15,000 for out-of-pocket expenses incurred, demonstrating that surrogacy is a relationship and not a transaction.

Also highlighted by the report is the overwhelming support (75% of survey respondents) for legal reform in order better to represent how UK surrogacy works in practice. The report shows that both surrogates and intended parents want to remove the legal uncertainty over parenthood at the point of birth. At the moment legal parenthood rests with the surrogate at birth. The intended parents must apply after birth for a parental order, which can take several months. In the meantime they have no legal rights and the child is left in legal limbo. The report finds that 69% of surrogates are opposed to being able to change their mind about giving a baby back to its intended parents. Only 5% believe that a surrogate should be able to change her mind at any point.

Surrogacy UK has set up a working group on surrogacy reform consisting of: Natalie Smith, trustee, Surrogacy UK; Sarah Jones, chairperson, Surrogacy UK; Dr Kirsty Horsey, senior lecturer, Kent Law School; Louisa Ghevaert, partner, Michelmores LLP; and Sarah Norcross, director, Progress Educational Trust.

Recommendations for reform include:

The following actions for government are recommended:

The report is here.