February 23, 2024

Should British surrogates be paid?

The law needs an overhaul, but the solutions will probably not include commercial surrogacy.

Sydney Morning Herald /Simon Bosch    

There appears to be significant support for an overhaul of UK surrogacy laws. Earlier this week the UK Working Group on Surrogacy Law Reform published a report with various recommendations. Interestingly, these did not include a US style commercial model of surrogacy. According to a press release published with the report,

“The existing [legislative] model is not perfect, but it does provide a workable basis from which improvements can be made, and there are aspects of the existing law which should be retained. The retention of altruistic surrogacy in the UK is also aligned with public policy governing other areas of assisted reproduction in the UK, including gamete donation.”

In an article in the Guardian this week, a woman who used a surrogate mother to have her twins four years ago spoke of the importance of keeping surrogacy altruistic. “We must avoid reforms that would embed a commercial approach: contracts, transactions, profiteering”, said Natalie Smith, 34. The surrogate who bore Smith’s babies, Jenny French, 28, agrees: “Surrogacy is about friendship,” she said. French is also expressed concerns about where the money would go if surrogacy were commercialised: “It won’t be the surrogates who get the money, it will be the lawyers and the agents”.

UK fertility law expert Natalie Gamble believes that the law should be changed, and that the UK should adopt a Californian commercial surrogacy model.  According to Gamble this would create a more “structured” and “transparent” surrogacy system. 

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