Surrogacy and advertising
In a recent article published by the BBC, warnings have been given that we could soon see adverts on social media targeting young women to become surrogates.
Currently, it is against the law to advertise for a surrogate in the UK. However, the Law Commission has put forward proposals as part of a consultation process to determine what (if any) changes are required to update the laws on surrogacy in England & Wales.
Other countries, such as the USA, commonly commercialise surrogacy in ways not permitted by law in England and Wales. Clinics in the USA are able to advertise seeking surrogates, law firms are permitted to charge a fee for advising on and negotiating the terms of a Surrogacy Agreement, and surrogates are provided compensation over and above just expenses. (None of which is permitted in England and Wales as the law currently stands.)
Among the provisional changes is a proposal that all advertising restrictions would be lifted, allowing clinics to advertise for surrogates. The question of whether it should be permissible for surrogates to be compensated by intended parents beyond just receiving fees to cover expenses, was put to the public as part of the consultation process.
The article reports that critics of the proposals are concerned this could lead to the arrangements becoming more commercialised generally, with vulnerable women being targeted and seeking surrogacy as a means to pay off debts. (It stands to reason that these concerns would be further validated if the proposed changes did indeed include provisions lifting restrictions on surrogates receiving financial compensation over and above expenses.) Whether the Law Commission's proposal to introduce specific regulation for surrogacy arrangements and safeguards such as counselling and independent legal advice would adequately safeguard against these concerns remains to be seen.
The Law Commission are expected to report with their recommendations and draft Bill for parliament in 2021.
The full article can be accessed here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-51148421
If you are affected by any of the issues covered in this blog or if you have any questions, please contact a member of our team who have extensive expertise on the legal issues arising from surrogacy agreements to include disputes that may arise in relation to care for a child after their birth.