Surrogacy

Commissioner

David Johnston QC

Team member

Gillian Swanson, Project Manager
Katie Hendry, Legal Assistant

***HAVE YOUR SAY***  See below for Consultation Events in Edinburgh and Aberdeen and elsewhere in the UK.

***SHORT FORM QUESTIONNAIRE 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/

Background

The project on surrogacy is Item No 6 of our Tenth Programme of Law Reform.  Also, the UK Government has referred the project to us as a joint project with the Law Commission of England and Wales.  We aim to complete the project by the end of the Programme, that is by the end of 2022.

Consultation Paper

We have published a joint Consultation Paper on Building families through surrogacy: a new law.  A Summary and news release are also available.  PLEASE NOTE THE CHANGE OF DATE - the consultation period will now run until 11 October 2019.  We would be grateful to hear your views on this topic.  An online form is available at https://www.lawcom.gov.uk/project/surrogacy/ or please see page (i) of the paper.

Consultation events

We are holding a series of consultation events on our joint Consultation Paper. These events will provide an opportunity for interested parties to discuss views on our provisional proposals and questions, and will help us to shape our final recommendations. The events are open to all (for example, professionals, surrogates, intended parents and general members of the public). 

Events in Edinburgh and Aberdeen are on 9 and 10 September respectively and can be found here and here.  Events elsewhere in the UK begin this month and can be found here:  https://www.lawcom.gov.uk/project/surrogacy/.  

What is surrogacy? 

Surrogacy is where a woman bears a child on behalf of someone else or a couple, who then intend to become the child’s parents (the intended parents). Surrogacy is legal in the UK.

What is wrong with the current law?

Currently, intended parents have to wait until the child has been born and then apply to a court to become the child’s parents. The process can take many months to complete.  This process affects the intended parents’ ability to take decisions about the child in their care.

Furthermore, insufficient regulation makes it difficult to monitor the surrogacy process and those involved in it, and ensure that standards throughout the process are kept high. There is also a lack of clarity around surrogacy payments. The law currently permits intended parents to pay ‘reasonable expenses’ to the surrogate, however this is unclear and difficult to apply in practice.

What proposals are being made?

Change is needed to make sure the law works for everyone involved.  To reflect the wishes of surrogates and intended parents, the Law Commissions are proposing to allow intended parents to become legal parents when the child is born, subject to the surrogate retaining a right to object for a short period after the birth. 

The new process would require safeguards – such as counselling and independent legal advice – for those entering into the surrogacy arrangement. These would reduce the risk of the arrangement breaking down which can cause great distress for all involved.

A surrogacy regulator and regulated surrogacy organisations would oversee these arrangements and ensure standards can be monitored and kept high.

For surrogacy arrangements that do not qualify for this new regulated process, the Law Commissions are also proposing amendments to improve regulation of the existing parental order route which will make the law clearer, easier to apply and more cost-effective.

At this point, the Commissions are not putting forward any proposals around payments to the surrogate. However, as part of the consultation, the Commissions want to understand public views on surrogacy payments. The consultation therefore includes questions regarding the categories of payment that the intended parents should be able to pay to the surrogate.

Contact

If you require any further information about the surrogacy project, or if there are matters you wish to raise on the topic of surrogacy, please email:
gillian.swanson@scotlawcom.gsi.gov.uk

If you would like to be kept informed of future publications and events on this project, we would be happy to add you to our email mailing list on request.