It’s Time For Change
22 May 2015 by Charlotte Knappett
On 8 May 2015 it was announced that the Conservative party had won the 2015 General Election by a majority vote. When hearing this news I pondered how this may impact on reform of the surrogacy legal structure in this country.
My mind turned to Jessica Lee MP, a member of the Conservative party who led a debate on 14 October 2014 on surrogacy reform in the UK. She called for the following:-
- New legislation to be brought forward to update the law to help intended parents and surrogates.
- Written agreements for those going into surrogacy to ensure all issues have been discussed and agreed.
- An international framework for surrogacy.
- A code of practice for parents and surrogates.
- Pre-birth orders. It has to be right there is an immediate transfer of parenthood on birth.
- Payments to be regulated and transparent, to be for the surrogate’s inconvenience and not for the acquisition of a child.
The response was a positive one, with clear acknowledgement that this needed further consideration. Jane Ellison MP, Minister for Public Health (on behalf of the Government) responded:
“Surrogacy is clearly a complex area, and an evolving area. Current legislation seeks to strike that balance in what’s right for parents and children, but honorable members have made the case today that they do not think that balance is being struck, and I hear that. In the light of that, I think there is scope for better information, and that is something that can be done more quickly than changing the law. There is a case for looking more widely at it, and I would be interested to hear the responses after this debate as to the interest across the House. I mentioned a cross-government working group on surrogacy. I think perhaps the next step from this debate is if I can perhaps invite my honorable friend to come and address that group and perhaps we can see where this debate might go from there”
I am disappointed to see that Jessica Lee MP stood down from her position before the election and, of course, this raises the question of who now will drive this issue forward?
In an interview published in the Pink Press on 29 April 2015 David Cameron was asked on behalf of Gay Parenting Support and LGBT couples his stance on the possibility of introducing a legal framework for all couples considering surrogacy.
His response was reassuring and supportive of change but not clear on the steps that would be taken.
“I’ve made it a priority to sort out the adoption system and make it less bureaucratic and time-consuming” “
“If you are the right person to bring up a child, you should be allowed to do it. Just as it was wrong to deny people the chance to get married because of their sexuality, it’s also wrong to deny a couple the chances to be parents because of their sexuality. I’ve been clear that when there are children in need of a loving family, and gay couples who can give them that love and security, we should not allow prejudice to stand in the way. I think that sends a powerful message about who we are as a country in the modern world”.
It appears the drive behind change is now building and I am delighted to see that High Court Judge, Mrs Justice Theis, has taken the bold step to call for reform to the laws regulating surrogacy in this country. A separate article will be published by me about this shortly.