Changing UK Surrogacy Laws – Our Campaign for Change
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The Surrogacy UK Working Group on Legal Reform
The Surrogacy UK Working Group has been instrumental in campaigning for change to UK law on surrogacy. As well as contributing to the first ever Government guidance on surrogacy, we are the secretariat for an All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on surrogacy, which is chaired by Andrew Percy MP. A report of our recent APPG hearings (which heard evidence on UK surrogacy and hopes for legal reform from a wide range of stakeholders) is due to be published in Spring 2019.
Most recently, we have launched an update report to our 2015 publication. Our findings are based on the largest ever survey of UK surrogates and intended parents and makes recommendations for reform that have been fed into the Law Commission’s on-going review. You can view the press release here.
Our original report ‘Surrogacy in the UK: myth busting and reform’ – a landmark document, calling for evidence-based reform – formed the basis for a 2016 conference, the papers from which were subsequently published in a special edition of a law journal and a2016 House of Lords debate on surrogacy law reform. Its recommendations are supported by leading academics and policy influencers including Baroness Mary Warnock, who was instrumental in the creation of the UK’s laws on assisted reproduction.
In 2015 we launched a letter writing campaign that resulted in the highest ever number of responses to a Law Commission consultation and helped secure a root and branch review of UK surrogacy law. The consultation paper for this review is due in Spring 2019.
We actively campaigned for legal reform to enable single people to apply for parental orders and were thrilled to welcome our first single intended parents to SUK this year. You can read our press release here.
In early 2015 Surrogacy UK created a working group to examine UK surrogacy laws. We wanted to:
1) Make sure that the voices of those actually experiencing surrogacy – intended parents, surrogates and children born through surrogacy were injected into the debate
2) Ensure that any calls for reform were evidence-based (not based on myths or assumptions)
3) Ensure that reform recognises UK surrogacy as a positive and accepted form of assisted reproduction
4) Ensure that reform will improve the lived experiences of surrogacy.
Our starting point was to collaborate with other organisations and leading voices to form a working group to examine the issues around legal reform. The working group consists of the following people:
Natalie Smith (Chair) – member of Surrogacy UK and mum to twin girls born through surrogacy
Sarah Jones – Chair of Surrogacy UK and a four time surrogate
Alan McLellan – member of Surrogacy UK and dad to a little boy born through surrogacy
Dr Kirsty Horsey – Reader in Law at Kent Law School, University of Kent. She has been interested in and actively researching surrogacy law – and advocating reform – for nearly 20 years
Sarah Norcross – Director of the Progress Educational Trust (PET), Commissioning Editor of its publication BioNews and Co-Chair of the campaigning organisation Fertility Fairness.
Andrew Powell – Family law Barrister in London specialist in children law in the private, public and international sphere.
Our 2018 report was based on the largest ever UK survey on surrogacy. It concluded that surrogacy laws were out of date and in dire need of reform. We need laws that put the welfare of the child first, that remove discrimination and improve access to UK surrogacy and that recognise the reality of how surrogacy works in practice.
We therefore recommend that:
- The principle of altruistic surrogacy, which operates in the UK must be protected to reflect that surrogacy is a relationship, not a transaction.
- Parental orders should be pre-authorised so that legal parenthood is conferred on intended parents at birth.
- Intended parents should register the birth.
- Parental orders should be available to IPs where neither partner has used their own gametes (‘double donation’).
- The time limit for applying for a parental order should be removed.
- Parental order/surrogacy birth data should be centrally and transparently collected and published annually.
- IVF surrogacy cycles and births should be accurately recorded by fertility clinics/ Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).
- NHS funding should be made available for IVF surrogacy in line with NICE guidelines.
- The rules on surrogacy-related advertising and the criminalisation of this should be reviewed in the context of non-profit organisations.
We also recommend the following actions for government:
- Surrogacy should be included in schools’ sex and relationships education (SRE) classroom curriculum (from primary) – linked to awareness of (in)fertility, family options for same sex partners etc.
We have already had some success and the following recommendations from our original 2015 report have now been made:
- Parental orders should be available to single people who use surrogacy.
- The Department of Health, in consultation with the surrogacy community, should draft and publish a ‘legal pathway’ document for IPs and surrogates.
- The Department of Health should produce guidance for professionals in the field, written in consultation with the surrogacy community for midwives and hospitals, Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) and clinics.
If you would like to talk about our campaign please contact: Natalie.firstname.lastname@example.org