Natalie Gamble was part of the Victoria Derbyshire show today which considered the Law Commission’s proposals for surrogacy law reform. The program commissioned a film interviewing Professor Nick Hopkins of the Law Commission as well as two surrogate journeys - one positive and another where the surrogate was left feeling unsupported and compromised.
In a discussion alongside other interviewees, one who believed surrogacy in all forms should be prohibited as exploitation and 'baby buying' and another supporting a cautious approach, Natalie welcomed the Law Commission’s reform proposals and the way forward to ethically-supported surrogacy.
We know that there is a lack of understanding of what surrogacy entails. After all, why would anyone consider surrogacy unless you really had to. However, it was a shame not to see the true life of surrogacy in the UK, or the Law Commission’s proposals, more accurately reflected.
The core of the Law Commission's proposals are absolutely not to pave the way for commercial surrogacy (as was made clear by Nick Hopkins) but rather to implement safeguards, better information and more structured support for those undertaking surrogacy the UK. No avenue is being proposed to allow profit-making organisations nor to enable anyone from outside the UK to find a UK surrogate.
The Law Commission also proposes a regulatory body to be responsible for surrogacy - the first of its kind in the world. That is truly exceptional. Surrogacy in the UK is founded on trust and love and ensuring support from a robust legal framework with regulatory oversight can only add to security for surrogates and intended parents.
We set up Brilliant Beginnings - as a non-profit surrogacy agency - in 2013 to provide all the protections the Law Commission is recommending and more. We were the first fully-managed surrogacy service in the U.K., and our fees (charged on a non-profit basis) cover the costs of supporting everyone through a long process which often takes more than two years.
We are passionate about ethical surrogacy and we never compromise on our commitment to keep everyone safe. This includes surrogates, who have a full process of preparation with medical and psychological screening, as well as a minimum age restriction and a requirement for women who become surrogates to have had a previous uncomplicated pregnancy.
Surrogates are tenacious women who want to help others create a family, and they deserve exceptional support to do that. Far from regretting their decisions or finding it hard to give up a baby, surrogates go into surrogacy knowing they are carrying a child for someone else, and take pride and fulfilment from making a life-changing difference to another family.
Brilliant Surrogate Laura was keen to dispel the myth that she was vulnerable or had been exploited. She says:
“I am a 3 times surrogate here in the UK and watched the debate this morning on Victoria Derbyshire. I am an independent professional woman who considered being a surrogate for some time before finally setting myself on that journey. I am so very proud of my achievements in helping create other families knowing how fulfilling it is to have my own. Support and guidance is hugely needed throughout this process. No it isn’t always a bed of roses, and things can go off course at times. The changes to the UK surrogacy process that the Law Commission are proposing will represent a gold standard for surrogacy, and make sure that surrogates and parents enter in to any arrangement fully informed.
I cannot express enough how strongly I feel about the importance of entering into surrogacy in the right way. Brilliant Beginnings already have in place these safeguards for surrogates, and spend a huge amount of time exploring scenarios with surrogates during their screening process in order to make sure this is right for them. Surrogacy isn’t right for every woman who thinks they could do this, so taking time to explore the process safeguards women who might otherwise go into this massive journey uniformed and leave them vulnerable. The proposed law reform will promote this approach to surrogacy more widely, and surely that is what we should be striving for as the gold standard for surrogacy here in the UK."
You can read more about Laura’s surrogate experience in her blog: The Greatest Gift: Why I Chose To Become A Surrogate.