19:37, June 05 218 0 theguardian.com

2019-06-05 19:37:05
Campaigners call for reforms to surrogacy laws

Surrogacy laws should be updated to allow intended parents to assume the status of legal parents as soon as a baby is born, the Law Commission has recommended.

A consultation by several law reform organisations also calls for the establishment of a national register to allow those born through surrogacy arrangements to uncover information about their origins and how they were conceived.

The current legal process surrounding surrogacy is cumbersome because new parents have to wait until a court grants them a parental order; that can take many months to complete.

Subject to the surrogate mother retaining a right to object for a short period after the birth, the report by the Law Commission of England and Wales and the Scottish Law Commssion proposes a new “pathway” to legal parenthood.

A regulator should be created to oversee organisations involved in future surrogacy agreements created through the new pathway, it is recommended. The proposals form part of a public consultation being launched today.

The requirement that intended parents have a genetic link to the child should be ended, the report proposes, halting discrimination against individuals and couples who are infertile and thereby prevented from having children through surrogacy.

The ban on profit-seeking, commercial surrogacy agencies should remain, it is suggested, although the consultation is seeking public views on surrogacy payments.

The laws governing surrogacy have not changed since they were introduced in the 1980s. The precise number of surrogate births is unknown, but there were around 400 parental order proceedings in 2016 to regularise such births.

Sir Nicholas Green, chair of the Law Commission said: “More and more people are turning to surrogacy to have a child and start their family. We therefore need to make sure that the process is meeting the needs of all those involved.

“However, the laws around surrogacy are outdated and no longer fit for purpose. We think our proposals will create a system that works for the surrogates, the parents and, most importantly, the child.”

Lady Paton, chair of the Scottish Law Commission, said: “Surrogacy has become a significant issue in today’s society. The interests of all the parties involved must be properly regulated and protected. That is the focus of our proposals.”

Dustin Lance Black, a surrogate father and campaigner, said: “Without our wonderful surrogate and clear surrogacy law, we would not have been able to have our first child or begin building the family we’ve always wanted.”

“Good, clear law helps people make stronger, clearer decisions. Solid, definitive surrogacy law in the UK will have the power to keep surrogates, egg donors, intended parents, children, and families safe. This consultation is vital for ensuring the UK succeeds in building the best surrogacy law in the world.”