As a small, grassroots campaign we have no funding and no method of receiving any, so we kindly ask for support with your time, not money. As we await the report from the Law Commission which will form the basis for a draft Bill, please write to your MPs to share your concerns about potential reform of the 1985 Surrogacy Act.
To help we provide some suggested text but please tailor it to make it personal by mentioning the areas of reform you are most concerned about, we provide a list of ten to choose from below.
If you do send an email or letter to your MP we would appreciate being informed so we can track them. We would be very interested to hear from you if you receive a reply. Thank you!
[Your Name and Street Address]
[Your City and Your Postcode]
[Month, Day, Year]
Dear (insert MP’s name which you can find here),
I understand that the Law Commission are expected to release their report soon on proposals to reform the 1985 Surrogacy Act. There is a meeting on 14th March and I ask that you attend.
My concerns are as follow:
- Parental rights at birth – this moves the UK towards a commercial model and erases the birth mother on the birth certificate. CAFCASS are the key body involved in supervising the welfare of children in a surrogacy arrangement. It is perverse to go against their advice as well as that of the UN Special Rapporteur.
- No limits on age – no consideration has been given to the impact of this. A single woman of 18 will have little life experience on which to base a decision. Age restrictions should be similar to that of adoption on both women engaging as a surrogate mother and commissioning parents.
- No limits on number of pregnancies – doctors may give advice but advice can be ignored. A woman should be prevented from entering into serial surrogacy arrangements for health reasons, both physical and mental. Surrogate mothers have spoken about the addictive nature of surrogacy and the obstetric risks and potential cost to the NHS should be explored.
- Capacity assessment for 16 year mentioned in APPG sessions – the question of a capacity assessment for children to become surrogate mothers is sickening and it highlights the direction of travel for surrogacy in the UK. The UN Convention the Rights of the Child applies to children up to age 18. This move would exploit children. (See attached image below.)
- Light touch background checks – again, as a form of state sanctioned parenthood there should be a similar framework to adoption, to suggest otherwise ignores safeguarding of children.
- ‘Out of pocket’ expenses – the Law Commission gives an average of £15,000 which is unusually high given the actual cost of pregnancy and our free-at-source medical provision in the UK. This will effectively bring commercial surrogacy in through the back door by claiming for ‘lost earnings’ or other items which are not strictly ‘pregnancy expenses’. This is an area where surrogacy reform could target those in dire financial situations, a serious concern given the cost-of-living crisis. (Commissioning parents can also be exploited through this method of payment.)
- Advertising ban – poor women, single mothers etc could be targeted for the ‘womb rental’, again a serious concern given cost-of-living worries shared by millions.
- Integrity of implications counselling – this needs further exploration as to the integrity of the counselling surrogate mothers receive. It is also not compulsory and surrogacy arrangements can be made online with no framework of support for the woman for this significant and potentially life-changing decision.
- Influence of lobby groups on consultation and secretariat – Surrogacy UK lobbies hard for reform and have influenced the Law Commission, as have controversial lobby groups such as Stonewall. Surrogacy UK leads the Secretariat on the APPG for Surrogacy. This results in undue influence over the APPG.
- Double donation – as the HFEA announces a consultation with a view to lift anonymity on donated gametes from birth, surrogacy reforms suggest that double-donor conceived children could be also be surrogate-born, therefore removing the current requirement to have at least one genetic relationship between the child and their legal parent. This ignores and exacerbates genealogical bewilderment, a well-known suffering of children which extends into adulthood. What is the difference between surrogacy of donor conceived children and trafficking in human beings which is a violation of fundamental rights? The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states: “contained in this treaty is a profound idea: that children are not just objects who belong to their parents and for whom decisions are made, or adults in training.” The proposed changes place the child last, not first.
Please also refer to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Human Rights (ENC 326/396 Official Journal of the European Union 26.10.2012) and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child when considering surrogacy reform.
I have outlined several detailed problems with proposed changes which together show the fundamental problem with surrogacy. This practice has been banned in several countries including France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Bulgaria and Poland. Indian banned commercial surrogacy on the basis that Indian women being exploited. The Ukrainian Children’s Ombudsman has called for a ban based on child safety.
The European Parliament – in its report on the impact of the war against Ukraine on women it officially condemns surrogacy. The report states that “sexual exploitation for surrogacy and reproduction is unacceptable and a violation of human dignity and human rights”.
Finally, I ask that you might consider becoming a member of the APPG on surrogacy or submitting a Parliamentary question on proposed reform.
Thank you for taking the time to read this email. I am very happy to talk to you about this in more detail and appreciate your support on this matter. I’d also be very happy to come and visit you at one of your surgeries to discuss this in more detail.
[insert your name]
[Insert your address – this is essential]
[Insert your contact details (phone and email) -optional]
Attachments: Screenshot from APPG Evidence session report