The UK's surrogacy laws were written in the 1980s and are woefully out of date. Under the current law:
Against this backdrop, it is not surprising that not enough UK surrogates come forward. The surrogacy framework feels murky, and does not support a surrogate’s commitment to carry someone else's child. UK surrogacy arrangements are frayed with vulnerability, leaving people to enter into arrangements informally and muddle through without any legal process until after the child is born. Most parents now instead go overseas for surrogacy, but international surrogacy carries its own challenges and concerns, including UK children frequently born stateless and parentless.
With ever-increasing numbers, the current law is being stretched to breaking point. High Court judges have described it as 'irreconcilably conflicting' and 'the very antithesis of sensible' and, in case after case, have called for 'better regulation' of surrogacy in the UK. Reform is long overdue.
At Brilliant Beginnings and our sister organisation NGA Law, we have campaigned for UK surrogacy law reform since 2007, and have already won some progressive change (see our Past Successes). We now want to see a full review of UK surrogacy law, and we are working hard in many ways to make it happen.
In 2014 we worked with Jessica Lee MP who raised a Westminster Hall debate in Parliament about the need for reform of UK surrogacy law. This was the first time UK surrogacy law reform was raised substantially in Parliament, and put surrogacy on the agenda and led to the creation of a cross-governmental working group on surrogacy.
In 2016 we launched an online petition on Change.org setting out our agenda for change, which was signed by more than 1,000 people in 3 days.
In 2019 we won a law change enabling single parents to apply for parental orders after surrogacy. Our sister organisation NGA Law fought and won the human rights case of Re Z (2016), challenging the law, with support from Brilliant Beginnings. We were then involved in the drafting of the new law enabling single parents to apply for parental orders, which came into force in January 2019. Read more about the story from the NGA Law blog.
Following Re Z (2016), the government also asked the Law Commission (the independent body which recommends changes to outdated laws) to review UK surrogacy law as part of its next programme of work. Their review began in spring 2018 and will produce recommendations for the government on how surrogacy law should be brought up to date. We have already made several submissions to them, and will be supporting them with their review however we can going forward.
Pending law reform, Brilliant Beginnings has also worked closely with the Department of Health (and other leading UK surrogacy organisations) to write the first ever government guidance on surrogacy, which was launched in February 2018, and is available on gov.uk.
We need a proper legal framework for surrogacy in the UK which works in a global context and reflects the UK’s values of putting children's welfare first. Surrogacy is not going away. To manage it properly, and to make safe ethical surrogacy more accessible, we are calling for:
For guidance on writing to your MP to help support our campaign please click here.
Sign our online petition here: https://www.change.org/p/uk-government-it-s-time-to-review-uk-surrogacy-law