Most surrogates want to give up their parental rights from BIRTH, reveals survey
- Surrogate mothers are responsible until a parental order is granted
- But 69% believe parenthood automatically rested with intended parents
- Laws are currently under review and could include paid agreements
Most surrogate mothers believe parental responsibility should be handed over as soon as the baby is born.
Surrogates remain the baby’s legal mother until a parental order is granted, which can take months.
But a survey has now revealed 69 per cent of surrogate mothers feel the law – which has existed since 1990 – should be changed.
Surrogacy UK, a support network, has described the law as being ‘outdated and in dire need of reform’.
Surrogates remain the legal mother until a parental order is granted months after the birth, but 69 per cent believe this should be changed in law reviews
The current laws are under review by the Law Commission, which is to publish its updated proposals in the coming weeks.
The survey by Surrogacy UK was conducted on 102 surrogate mothers, The Times reports.
Only two of the women who were polled revealed they thought they should be the legal parents at birth.
Sir Nicholas Green, chairman of the Law Commission, said that the existing laws were outdated for a number of reasons.
The transfer or parental responsibility can be subject to difficulties.
The intended parents don’t have the legal right to consent to invasive surgery or other key medical issues until rights are transferred.
Sir Nicholas also said they were considering allowing commercial surrogacy, whereby the surrogate mothers are paid.
WHAT IS SURROGACY?
Surrogacy is when a woman carries a baby for a couple who are unable to conceive or carry a child themselves.
Such couples may include those who have suffered recurrent miscarriages, repeated IVF failures, premature menopause or a hysterectomy.
The risks of being a surrogate mother are the same as for every pregnancy, and include nausea, heart burn and back ache.
In extreme cases, surrogates can suffer high blood pressure or gestational diabetes.
This involves using the surrogate’s egg and the intended father’s sperm.
It is the least expensive and simplest form of the procedure.
Host surrogacy requires IVF with either the intended mother’s eggs or donor eggs rather than those of the surrogate.
In this case, the surrogate is genetically unrelated to the baby.
Donor eggs can be from friends or relatives, or anonymously donated.
What are the laws?
Surrogacy is legal in the UK, however, it cannot be advertised.
No third parties are allowed to be involved and surrogates can only receive payments to cover expenses incurred as a result of being pregnant.
In the US, surrogacy costs around $100,000 (£75,879), with laws varying between states.
Source: Surrogacy UK
Women are currently banned from advertising themselves as surrogates or receiving payment other than to cover ‘reasonable expenses’.
But women are mostly in favour of this rule – 71 per cent of surrogates were opposed to being paid, the survey found.
Natalie Smith, who chairs Surrogacy UK’s working group on law reform, said: ‘Surrogacy law is outdated and in dire need of reform.
‘We hope the findings of this report will be taken into consideration. The law has to reflect how people actually going through it feel.’
A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: ‘We recognise surrogacy law is dated and want to make sure it is fit for purpose.’
She added that this was why the body is ‘supporting a current review by the Law Commission’.
Sarah Jones, who has been a surrogate for three couples, said: ‘Surrogacy isn’t a job. We do it because we are passionate about making families, not money.
‘Being paid anything more than expenses would change the relationship we have with the parents and would put most surrogates off doing it.’
Surrogacy births have increased ten fold in ten years, according to Sir Nicholas, as more same-sex couples and single parents seek to have a baby this way.
He said the main problem was that the law was ‘quite cumbersome’ and often required people to go abroad to find a solution.
However, this comes with its own difficulties of getting the baby home with the correct legal documents.
If a couple and a surrogate mother want to have an agreement, they don’t need to inform any Government body.
Laws surrounding surrogacy vary by state in the US – many states allow commercial surrogacy and it is generally easier to find a surrogate than it is in the UK, although it can be costly.