by Philippa Taylor, The Conservative Woman:
IN June, the Law Commission published a consultation document on surrogacy, which is still open for submissions. The premise of the consultation – and indeed of the Government – is that surrogacy is a positive, family-building option and that the current law is too restrictive and needs to be ‘reformed’.
The consultation paper could hardly be clearer with its title: ‘Building Families through Surrogacy: a new law.’ This is backed up by the Government: ‘The Government supports surrogacy as part of the range of assisted conception options.’
The Law Commission, with other proponents for change, https://www.bionews.org.uk/page_144491 argues strongly that the current law is out of date and in urgent need of reform: ‘We think that there is a strong case for reform to the law. We believe that the current law is out of date, unclear and not fit for purpose.’ Or, as Sir James Munby, former President of the Family Division, puts it: ‘Our legislation is elderly by any standards. Large-scale legislative reform is essential.’
Two of the main issues that the Law Commission is looking at are payments to surrogates, and who are the legal parents of the baby. For the latter, they propose that in principle the ‘intended parents’ will become the legal parents at birth (rather than after six weeks as at present), thus transferring parental rights immediately to the ‘intended parents’, and away from the surrogate mother.
A helpful CMF blog covers some of the practical and ethical issues in more detail. However I want to take a step back and question the basic assumption that surrogacy is a positive family-building option, to be supported and encouraged.