Through Brilliant Beginnings and NGA Law we have helped win various changes to UK law and practice on surrogacy since 2008.
We represented the father in the case of Re Z (2015/16) which challenged the law's discrimination against single parents, and won a ruling from the High Court that the law breached human rights principles. In December 2016, the government told the House of Lords that the law would be amended by a fast-track remedial order so that single parents with children through surrogacy will be able to apply for parental orders to secure their parentage. The remedial order was sent to Parliament in November 2017 and came into force in January 2019.
Find out more about the story of this law change.
In February 2018, the UK government launched its first ever official guidance on surrogacy law and practice, designed to provide accurate public information for parents, surrogates and the professionals who support them in the UK. We worked closely with the Department of Health, together with other key surrogacy organisations, and we helped to write the content.
In 2008, we wrote (with the backing of various national charities) to the government, asking them to address the fact that parents through surrogacy had no rights to maternity leave to care for their newborn children. At the time, the government felt that the issue affected too few people to legislate for, but we continued to campaign, over a long period of time, with our founder Natalie Gamble interviewed in national news articles and several times for Radio 4 Woman's Hour. Finally, in 2012, we worked with John Healey MP who introduced a Private Members' Bill to Parliament on the issue, which was ultimately adopted by the government as part of the Children and Families Act 2014, and we then worked with the Department of Business Innovation and Skills to help write the detail of the new regulations.
As of April 2015, parents through surrogacy have the right to a form of adoption leave specific to surrogacy which, if they intend to apply for a parental order, gives them (from birth) the equivalent to full maternity/paternity leave and pay.
In 2009, we brought to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority's attention the fact that clinic forms and procedures for surrogacy could be improved, and in 2013 they worked with us to prepare the UK's first guidance and forms specific to surrogacy, which are now used by all UK fertility clinics.
In 2010, we worked with the Department of Health when it was drafting new regulations on surrogacy. We made several suggestions in the consultation which became law, including that children born through surrogacy abroad should become British automatically on the grant of a parental order.
In 2009, we persuaded the Secretary of State for Health to change the law on embryo storage, so that parents with their own embryos stored for surrogacy could store them for longer than five years. There is now no distinction in the length of time for which embryos can be stored, whether they are stored for personal use or for surrogacy.
Natalie defended the new rights for same sex parents in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008, speaking out prominently in the media and in the House of Lords and working with Stonewall, MPs and lobby groups to help them win the free vote in the House of Commons. She also more quietly lobbied for surrogacy law reform, drafting amendments to the law which would have ended the rule that the surrogate's husband is the legal father, and removed discrimination against single parents applying for parental orders (sadly, these were not adopted in 2008).