Surrogacy in the UK: Pros and Cons

May 20 2019
Surrogacy in the UK: Pros and Cons

Why surrogacy in the UK? 

Surrogacy in the UK is growing, as confirmed by all the organisations who have been involved in surrogacy in the UK over the past 20 years. Some clinics now have dedicated staff who work with surrogacy teams; there are specialist surrogacy lawyers; even the government has published guidelines and we are seeing a focus on law reform through the Law Commissions of both Scotland and England. 

But there are difficulties with having a family through surrogacy in the UK. 

At the heart of surrogacy in the UK is a shared desire to conceive a much-wanted child, either to complete a family or to get it started. UK surrogacy is grounded in a sense of community, shared values and mutual understanding. But the legal framework does not fully reflect the selfless nature of surrogates nor the enormous commitment they and their families make. It offers no reassurance that a surrogate and her family will not have legal responsibility for a child she bears for someone else, creating vulnerability for all.  It is a big thing to ask someone, not just to offer themselves as a surrogate, but also to shoulder legal responsibility until the court process after the birth sets things right and many would-be surrogates and their partners do not want to take this risk. The tragic result is a dire shortage of surrogates in the UK. 

This shortage, and the UK’s legal framework, mean that many intended parents feel they have no alternative than to go abroad for surrogacy. Others enter into complex and sometimes disastrous UK surrogacy relationships whereby key decisions or steps are not discussed thoroughly enough at the outset and as a result things unravel. At best everyone muddles through, adding to everyone’s stress and anxiety which is not what anyone wants when they are hoping for the most incredible of experiences. 

There is light at the end of the tunnel for surrogacy in the UK.

There are a growing number of UK surrogates who feel that they can offer intended parents their help in spite of these complexities. These women understand that having a family involves ups and the downs.  They are tenacious, generous women who put their lives on hold whilst they are a surrogate and they have equally caring and generous families and friends supporting them.  

There is also growing accessibility to organisations and professionals who want to support surrogacy, including non-profit surrogacy organisations, fertility clinics and maternity hospitals.  Support is available to women who want to help create families to help them do it. Where there is a lack of experience for the medical professional there are now guidelines on the government’s website. Surrogacy teams now plan early appointments to explain their situation and spread awareness, often with the help of Brilliant Beginnings or another non-profit surrogacy organisation. It is increasingly rare not to see a willingness from professionals to make surrogacy as easy and stress free as possible. Acceptance and understanding is growing, and law reform is on the way.

But the most important part of surrogacy is the children who are born. Having a positive and respectful relationship founded on shared values and care for each other is a key part of ensuring that there is a positive story to tell any child about how they came into the world. With more widespread sources of support for UK surrogacy and – we hope – better laws, we see a positive future in which ethical UK surrogacy will continue to grow and thrive.

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