Surrogacy

Current project status

  • Initiation: Could include discussing scope and terms of reference with lead Government Department
  • Pre-consultation: Could include approaching interest groups and specialists, producing scoping and issues papers, finalising terms of project
  • Consultation: Likely to include consultation events and paper, making provisional proposals for comment
  • Policy development: Will include analysis of consultation responses. Could include further issues papers and consultation on draft Bill
  • Reported: Usually recommendations for law reform but can be advice to government, scoping report or other recommendations

Making surrogacy laws that work for the parents, the surrogate and, most importantly, the child. The consultation period is open until 11 October 2019. Details on how to respond are below.

Download the full consultation paper here.

Download a summary of the consultation paper here.

Download a Welsh summary of the consultation paper here.

Download an easy read summary of the consultation paper here.

The problem

Becoming a parent is the greatest day in many people’s lives. But sometimes surrogacy can be the only way for people to have children who have a genetic link to them.

Surrogacy is where a woman – the surrogate – bears a child on behalf of someone else or a couple, who intend to become the child’s parents.

As society changes, surrogacy is becoming more common – the number of children born this way could be 10 times higher than it was a decade ago.

In the UK, surrogacy is governed by the Surrogacy Arrangements Act 1985 and certain provisions of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008.

But there are significant problems with the law. Currently, intended parents have to wait until the child has been born and then apply to court to become the child’s parents. The process can take many months to complete and doesn’t reflect the reality of the child’s family life, and affects the intended parents’ ability to take decisions about the child in their care.

There is also insufficient regulation which makes it difficult to monitor the surrogacy process and those involved in it and ensure that standards throughout the process are kept high. Finally, a lack of clarity around surrogacy payments makes the laws difficult to apply in practice.

The project

This project came out of our 13th Programme of Law Reform. In our open public consultation surrogacy received the most support of those projects which form part of the Programme, with over 340 people and groups saying the law was not fit for purpose.

The project will consider the legal parentage of children born via surrogacy, the regulation of surrogacy more widely, and the international context of surrogacy.

It will take account of the rights of all involved, including the question of a child’s right to access information about their origin and the prevention of exploitation of children and adults.

Consultation paper

We have published our consultation paper on surrogacy reform – Building families through surrogacy: a new law. In the paper, we make provisional proposals to improve surrogacy laws so they better support the child, surrogates and intended parents.

Key proposals include:

  • Creating a new surrogacy pathway that will allow, in many cases, the intended parents to be the legal parents of the child from the moment of birth.
  • Introducing specific regulation for surrogacy arrangements and safeguards such as counselling and independent legal advice. This should reduce risk of arrangements breaking down.
  • Allowing international surrogacy arrangements to be recognised here, on a country-by-country basis.

We are also asking a series of questions to find out views on the types of payments that intended parents should be permitted to make to the surrogate. You can find a link to the full consultation paper below.

Short Form Survey for consultees with personal experience of surrogacy

While we encourage everyone to consider answering all of the questions we ask in our consultation paper, we recognise that there are some questions which may be of particular interest to people with personal (rather than professional) experience of surrogacy. These people include surrogates, intended parents, adults born of surrogacy and family members of people who have been involved in surrogacy. We have therefore made a Short Form Questionnaire available.

If you have personal experience of surrogacy, you may wish to fill in the Short Form Questionnaire, which contains an extract of only some of the questions we ask in our full paper. Consultation responses received through the Short Form Questionnaire will be considered in exactly the same way as other methods of responding to our consultation. Please note that you do not have to answer every question in either the Short Form Questionnaire or through our online form. You only need to use one form to submit your response to the consultation.

To respond using the Short Form Questionnaire, click here to download the Word document form. Fill in the answer fields and save a completed copy, then email the completed form to surrogacy@lawcommission.gov.uk.

To instead respond to the full list of questions we ask in the consultation, please go to: https://consult.justice.gov.uk/law-commission/surrogacy/.

Consultation events

We are holding a series of consultation events on our recent consultation paper which will provide you with an opportunity to discuss your views on our provisional proposals and questions, to help us shape our recommendations to Government. The events are open to all (e.g. professionals, surrogates, intended parents and general members of the public).

Please click on one of the links below to find out more and sign up to the events. Details of additional events will be added in due course.

Any questions should be directed to surrogacy@lawcommission.gov.uk

16:30, Monday 02 September – Newcastle

16:30, Tuesday 03 September – Birmingham

16:30, Tuesday 17 September – Belfast

16:30, Thursday September 19 – London

Next steps

The consultation is now open and will close on 11 October 2019.

Comments and responses to the consultation can be sent using the online form:

https://consult.justice.gov.uk/law-commission/surrogacy

However, we are happy to accept comments in other formats. If you would like to a response form in word format, do email us to request one. Please send your response:

By email to surrogacy@lawcommission.gov.uk
OR
By post to Surrogacy Team, Law Commission, 1st Floor, Tower, 52 Queen Anne’s Gate, London, SW1H 9AG.

If you send your comments by post, it would be helpful if, whenever possible, you could also send them by email.

If you have any questions, you can contact the team at: surrogacy@lawcommission.gov.uk

Documents and downloads

Project details

Area of law

Property, family and trust law

Commissioner

Professor Nicholas Hopkins