Surrogacy offers an opportunity to parents who are unable to conceive or carry a child themselves; but I am aware that the legal process can be complex and, at times, worrying.
As you may be aware, the Law Commission has reviewed all legislation concerning surrogacy, including the process of how intended parents become the child's legal parents. Their consultation closed in October 2019 and the final report with the Law Commission's recommendations, and a draft Bill, were published on 29 March 2023.
The Law Commission's proposals include creating a new surrogacy pathway to allow intended parents to be the legal parent from the moment of birth and introducing regulatory oversight for surrogacy arrangements and safeguards such as counselling and independent legal advice. I note the concerns over the Law Commission’s proposals. I would like to reassure you that the Government will carefully consider the report and legislative proposals now they have been published.
In the UK, if a surrogate is used, they will be the child's legal parent at birth. Legal parenthood can be transferred by parental order or adoption after the child is born, and if there is a disagreement, the courts will make a decision based on the best interests of the child. If an international surrogate is used, the process for getting the child back to the UK can be very long, and can be further complicated by different laws for surrogacy in different countries. Before embarking on this process it is paramount that specialist legal advice is sought.
Existing legislation in the UK ensures that the woman who gives birth is regarded as the child's mother until legal parenthood is transferred, and that surrogacy arrangements are not legally enforceable to avoid the situation of a newly-born child being taken away from its birth mother against her wishes.