Written by Kieran Ung – member of the Street Project
In general, surrogacy is a practice where a woman becomes pregnant carrying a child who may or may not be genetically related to her, carrying the baby and giving birth for another couple otherwise known as intended parents. There are different forms of surrogacy which includes the traditional surrogacy method and the gestational surrogacy method. For the traditional method, artificial insemination will be used to conceive the child. As for the gestational method, IVF (Invitro fertilisation) will be used to conceive the child.
Surrogacy is usually a viable option for couples or individuals who are not able to conceive a child naturally due to some medical conditions such as infertility, or same-sex couples who desire to have children. In the UK, surrogacy is a legal process that is regulated by specific laws designed to protect the rights of both the surrogate mother and the commissioning couple (or individual).
Surrogacy in the UK is governed by several laws and regulations, including the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 and the Surrogacy Arrangements Act 1985. These laws set out the legal framework that governs surrogacy in the UK, including the eligibility criteria for surrogates and commissioning couples, the legal status of the surrogate mother, and the rights and responsibilities of all parties involved in the surrogacy process.
In the UK, there are specific eligibility criteria for surrogacy that are designed to ensure that surrogacy is carried out safely and legally. For example, a woman who wishes to become a surrogate must be over the age of 18 and have given birth before, to prove that she is capable of carrying a child to term. Surrogates must also undergo a rigorous screening process that includes medical and psychological assessments, and must be given comprehensive information about the surrogacy process, including the legal implications of becoming a surrogate.
In the UK, the surrogate mother is recognized as the legal mother of the child until a Parental Order is granted. A Parental Order is a legal order granted by the court that transfers legal parenthood from the surrogate mother to the commissioning couple (or individual). To apply for a Parental Order, the commissioning couple (or individual) must demonstrate that they were married or in a civil partnership at the time of the surrogacy agreement, that the surrogate mother has consented to the transfer of legal parenthood, and that at least one of the commissioning parents is genetically related to the child.
Both the surrogate mother and the commissioning couple (or individual) have rights and responsibilities that are outlined in UK law. For example, the surrogate mother has the right to make decisions about medical treatment during pregnancy, and to decide whether to terminate the pregnancy if she wishes to do so. The commissioning couple (or individual) has the responsibility to provide financial support for the surrogate mother during the pregnancy, and to assume parental responsibility for the child after the Parental Order is granted.
The UK’s surrogacy law needs reform. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, the current law is outdated and does not reflect the reality of surrogacy in modern society. Secondly, there are significant differences in the way surrogacy is handled in the UK compared to other countries. Many couples in the UK feel they are forced to travel abroad to access surrogacy treatment, whereas they would prefer to remain in the UK.
There are several areas in which reforms to surrogacy law in the UK could improve the process for people seeking to build a family through surrogacy. Firstly, the law should be made clearer so that both intended parents and surrogates understand their rights and obligations. Secondly, provision needs to be made for surrogacy agreements to be legally binding in order to protect all parties involved. Finally, the law should be modernised to reflect the increasing role that science and technology play in surrogacy treatments.
In conclusion, surrogacy is a complex process that has the potential to bring great joy to intended parents. However, the current law in the UK is in need of reform. This will help to ensure that surrogacy is regulated in a manner that protects the interests of all those involved. A modernised law that provides greater clarity and protection will make it easier for people to build a family through surrogacy in the UK.