1-2-19 Surrogacy should be a relationship, not a transaction
UK surrogates are speaking out against a move to pay women a fee for carrying someone else's child, says Natalie Smith. SURROGACY law in the UK is in dire need of an overhaul. So it was no surprise when, last year, the body that oversees legal reform, the Law Commission, announced a project to make surrogacy rules “fit for the modern world”. A consultation paper is due in May. I am a mother to two wonderful daughters born by surrogacy, who are now nearly 8 years old. For the past four years, I have been pushing for new legislation. The most hotly debated issue is whether surrogates in the UK should be paid. Former president of the Family Division of the High Court, James Munby, has said that serious consideration should be given to abolishing the UK’s ban on commercial surrogacy. Yet the largest UK survey on attitudes to this, published last month, shows that surrogates don’t support a move towards commercialisation. Over 70 per cent of surrogates agreed that they should only receive “reasonable expenses”. They are motivated by making families, not money. The existing surrogacy culture in the UK, based on trust, mutual respect and partnership, has grown because the law as it is puts altruism at the heart of surrogacy. That must stay. Making it commercial would create problems. For example, in California payments to surrogates are typically equivalent to around £35,000. In total, surrogacy there can cost parents upwards of £100,000. We cannot be flippant about such sums. They are beyond most people. The real winners of a commercial model are surrogacy agencies and lawyers.