National Surrogacy Week 2022 runs from 1 to 7 August. This is a week-long event, founded in 2019, with the aim of raising awareness of surrogacy in the UK. The theme this year is “Children of Surrogacy”. The idea behind this theme is to highlight that the voices of children born through surrogacy and the children of surrogates must be the loudest and most important during discussions about surrogacy.
It is estimated that 436 children were born though surrogacy in the UK in 2021, and just over 5,000 in the last 10 years. There has been an increase of 20% in children born though surrogacy in the UK in the last 5 years. This shows that while the number of children born through surrogacy is still relatively low in the UK, generally there is a steady upward trend as more and more people are becoming aware of surrogacy as an option for them to start or grow their family.
The Law Commission of England and Wales undertook a research and consultation process in 2018-19 in relation to surrogacy law in England and Wales. They set out their provisional proposals for reforms to the current law in June 2019, which included among other things (a) the creation of a new pathway to legal parenthood in surrogacy, which will allow intended parents to be legal parents from birth (this is not currently possible), (b) a regulator for surrogacy and the creation of regulated surrogacy organisations to oversee surrogacy agreements within the new pathway, and (c) the creation of a register to allow those born through surrogacy arrangements to access information about their origins. This last proposal in particular goes to the heart of a child born through surrogacy’s identity and right to know more about their origins and heritage.
The Law Commission are now in the policy development stage, considering consultation responses. They are expected to produce their final report in the autumn (of 2022), which will set out their recommendations to the government as to how UK surrogacy laws should change and provide the government with a proposed draft Bill for consideration. Their provisional report in 2019 concluded with the following quote:
“The law governing surrogacy dates, in part, from the mid-1980s, when society and attitudes around surrogacy differed greatly from today. In short, the law relating to surrogacy is now outdated and needs to be changed to reflect current attitudes towards surrogacy, and understandings of how this way of building a family works.”
Harbottle & Lewis LLP advise clients in respect of surrogacy arrangements. If we can assist, please do not hesitate to contact us.