The former head of the U.K.’s family court, Sir James Munby, recently called for reforms in the way the UK approaches surrogacy. Specifically, the retired judge called for changes to the ban on compensation and on age restrictions for who can expand their families through artificial reproduction.
Surrogacy arrangements are legal in the UK, as long as potential surrogates do not advertise their services as such. However, intended parents cannot compensate gestational carriers beyond payments for “reasonable expenses.” In theory, this restriction may seem reasonable. However, in practice, it’s anything but.
Munby pointed out that judges ruling on surrogate compensation have little frame of reference, so they end up approving payments that may not actually be “reasonable” expenses under the law. He advocates for removing the ban on compensation and replacing it with a regulatory framework that would guide those involved in surrogacy relationships, as well as the judges charged with approving payments.
Surrogacy, of course, should not be about the money, or about gestational carriers profiting from the arrangement. However, Munby gave voice to a growing movement in the UK that says surrogates should be able to be compensated fairly for selflessly giving up a year or more of their lives. Making compensation legal does not necessarily mean that every surrogacy arrangement will include such compensation. However, it allows for the flexibility to do so.
Munby also called for revisions in the law that places restrictions on older people becoming surrogate parents, stating that lawmakers need to adapt as society changes. Current laws prohibiting 60-year olds from becoming parents through surrogacy were put in place in part because of a concern that someone who becomes a parent at age 60 wouldn’t live to see their child reach adulthood. As life expectancies increase though, that argument isn’t as strong as it once was.
Only time will tell what changes (if any) are made to the UK’s laws. However, it’s likely that other countries’ surrogacy laws will come into question as societal norms continue to evolve.
If you are considering growing your family through surrogacy, please contact us today. We aim to provide our clients with a straightforward breakdown of what might seem to be a complicated and daunting process so that they can enjoy the beautiful experience of bringing a child into the world through surrogacy.