Why shouldn’t we pay UK surrogates?

Over and over again we are asked, “Why shouldn’t surrogacy be commercialised? Why shouldn’t surrogates be paid for what they do?”

Firstly, we asked our surrogates… and they do not want to be paid!

In fact, the overwhelming majority said they wouldn’t do it if they were paid. It undermines all the reasons they chose to be a surrogate – to simply help create a family.

We also asked children born through surrogacy who said they did not want to feel bought and paid for.

Children through surrogacy thrive when they know where they came from; where there is openness and honesty about who their surrogate is, and where surrogacy is talked about with pride.

It is therefore a misconception that commercialised surrogacy would significantly increase the number of surrogates in the UK.

At SurrogacyUK, we perform checks for vulnerability, coercion and stability of home. If we introduced payments into our processes, would the right kind of surrogates be attracted? Would they pass the checks needed or would we be taking advantage of those that need to do it, rather than want to do it?

Could you say, hand on heart, that the money wouldn’t be seen as coercion?

The introduction of payments could drastically change the relationship between surrogates and their IPs.

If a surrogate became seen as a service provider, IPs could potentially insist they fulfil certain contractual obligations (like in the US).

These could include:

  • A reduction in the freedom of movement.
  • Rules re: sex with their partner.
  • A penalty if the contract isn’t adhered to.
  • Payment would only be received upon production of a healthy baby.

What if, years later, an antenatal health concern is discovered… could the IPs sue for damages?

The US system works but it is far from perfect – and body autonomy is certainly a concern.

Payments would result in the loss of any means-tested benefits a surrogate currently receives which, because of the UK benefit system, is a high number.

SurrogacyUK have a hard enough fight getting the DWP to accept that current expenses are not, in fact, an income. This is a huge concern for surrogates receiving benefits who only get expenses. 

Payments would be considered an income and must be declared as such to the DWP. This would obviously reduce a surrogate’s benefits, which would, in turn, increase costs for the IPs, who would need to cover expenses as well as the payments, plus the loss of benefits.

After payment has been made, a surrogate couldn’t easily go back to receiving benefits – any lump sum received must be justified to DWP and, if it has been spent on anything deemed as frivolous, like a car, or a deposit for a house, the surrogate would not be allowed to re-apply for benefits.

Any savings over £6k would affect a surrogate’s ongoing benefits, therefore accepting payments could have a knock-on effect to a surrogate’s benefits for years after.

In the US, you cannot be a surrogate if you claim financial aid from the government. If you only accept surrogates that are not on benefits of any kind in the UK, then 90% of surrogates are ineligible, thereby closing down surrogacy in the UK altogether.

Payments would have a significant impact on tax that surrogates pay.

Would the amount be taxable? Would it put surrogates in a higher tax bracket? Would their employer even allow them to have a second “job”?

The cost to IPs would at least double, if not triple – you would be creating a system where only the wealthy could have children. You would be creating financial infertility.

But people ask, why not have both systems – expenses only and payments?

The majority of surrogates, IPs and children born through surrogacy don’t want a payment model – they want it kept as a gift from one to another. It’s a relationship, not a transaction.

Why change the system for a small number of people who think payments are a good idea? Then look who is asking for the system to be changed? Do they stand to profit from the change?

It certainly won’t create security – the Law Commission’s proposals already tackle this, with the suggestion of a regulator and mandated checks.

These questions simply haven’t been answered by those in the industry who think that giving a surrogate a payment should be standard.

It isn’t a case of simply paying a surrogate, it isn’t a simple solution to a simple problem – when has throwing money at a problem ever worked?

Real consideration should be given to the issues above because these issues are real for surrogates – those who want a payment model don’t understand how it would work practically for a surrogate.

SurrogacyUK will always remain altruistic, and we will continue to support our surrogates who do it #forlovenotmoney

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