So if your knowledge of surrogacy is limited to that stint of Coronation Street you watched where Michelle Keegan portrayed a tearful surrogate obsessed with keeping the baby, let’s start with the facts. The word surrogacy is used when referring to a gestational carrier arrangement, where the carrier is implanted with an embryo created with eggs and sperm from the intended parents (or from a donor), not the eggs of the surrogate.
So, what else do you need to know about surrogacy law?
1) Is it legal?
Peoples’ attitudes towards surrogacy tend to differ remarkably and the law differs dramatically from country to country. For example countries such as Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain prohibit all forms of surrogacy. In countries such as Ireland, Denmark, Belgium and our own fair isle, surrogacy is allowed where the surrogate mother is not paid, or only paid for reasonable expenses.
2) How does it work abroad?
There are no internationally recognised laws for surrogacy, so many parents and children can be left vulnerable – or even stateless. It can take several months to bring a surrogate baby back to the parents’ home country, as they may not be automatically recognised as the legal parents. For instance In India, the intended parents are seen as the legal parents, whereas under UK law, the surrogate mother is recognised as the legal mother. The ramifications of this means a surrogate baby born in India, for UK parents, is born stateless, and has to apply for British citizenship.
3) Is it exploitative?
Surrogacy is not strictly regulated. This means that clinics, healthcare and consent are notnecessarily monitored. The lack of regulation also raises other issues such as whether the intending parents are considered suitable to be parents in their home country, what happens if the baby is born with a birth defect and the parents no longer want it or in poorer countries are women being forced into surrogacy?
If you are considering surrogacy or becoming a surrogate we strongly recommend you seek advice before starting the process.