Surrogacy in UK and alternatives

New figures show that the number of parents with a surrogate child in England and Wales has almost doubled in the last ten years.

Surrogacy in uk

Orders for parents transferring legal parenthood from surrogacy have risen from 117 in 2011 to 413 in 2020.

Two-thirds of today’s applicants are mixed-sex couples, usually 30 or 40 years old.

The report comes from the University of Kent and My Surrogacy Journey, a non-profit organization that supports surrogate parents and intended parents.

Surrogacy is the time a woman becomes pregnant for another couple or individual.

In most cases, this is because a man cannot bear the pregnancy alone for health reasons or because men are in a same-sex relationship.

Legal Surrogacy in UK

As it has become more common, experts say the British Surrogacy Act – in force since 1985 – is outdated and has left surrogates and future parents vulnerable.

The law stipulates that a surrogate mother is considered a legal mother at the birth of a child – despite genetic or established agreements.

A parental order must be issued to transfer the legal parent to the intended or biological parents.

And it’s illegal to advertise a surrogate – which means that if family or friends don’t date, the parents will have trouble finding a partner.

Non-profits and social media sites claim to have seen many people use their services to help find substitutes and become parents.

Surrogacy is legal in the UK. However, it is illegal to advertise a substitute and it is illegal for third parties to win the match.

Surrogacy arrangements in the United Kingdom are governed by the Surrogacy Act 1985 and the Human Fertilization and Embryology Act 2008.

UK Surrogacy vs surrogacy in United states

In the US, commercial surrogacy is legal in many states, but it can cost huge sums.

The NHS does not fund surrogacy arrangements.

The Department of Health lists four leading surrogacy organizations in the UK – COTS, Brilliant Beginnings, My Surrogacy Journey, and Surrogacy UK.

Surrogacy legislation applies throughout the United Kingdom, but there are different judicial systems in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The guidelines of the Department of Health apply only in England and Wales.

In the United States, surrogacy is more common and highly regulated, intentional parents can have birth certificates when a child is born – and paying tens of thousands of pounds to surrogates is a matter of course.

Commercial surrogacy is illegal in the UK, so third parties cannot benefit from connecting people.

However, it is not illegal for an alternate to pay non-profit organizations between GBP 12 000 and 20 000 on average, but there is no limit.

The government agreed that the Surrogacy Act in the UK needed to be reformed and asked the Law Commission of England and Wales, together with the Scottish Law Commission, to review it.

Nick Hopkins is the Commissioner for Family Law and one of the leading lawyers.

According to him, a large number of law reviewers accepted that surrogacy law in the UK needs to update.

He also added that the impression of UK surrogacy would be based on legal parentage and should not be a parental order but at birth.

Fundamental of the review based on the surrogate must retain her bodily autonomy throughout and a surrogacy agreement would not be enforceable if a surrogate withdrew her consent – which is extremely rare.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said that they knew surrogacy is a vital choice for families and they remain committed to reforming legislation to ensure more certainty for surrogates and intended parents.

The Legal Commission will publish its recommendations on legal reform and the bill by the end of 2022.


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