The study, the UK’s largest ever survey into surrogacy, was carried out by Dr Kirsty Horsey of Kent Law School (KLS) on behalf of Surrogacy UK. The survey was based on answers from 510 respondents, including surrogates, partners of surrogates, intended parents, and other parties.
The findings come as the Law Commission reviews the laws surrounding surrogacy. One of the issues the Commission is looking at is payments and whether surrogates and surrogacy agencies should be allowed to profit from the procedure. At the moment it is illegal to make money from surrogacy in the UK, which has altruism as its guiding principle.
The survey by Dr Horsey, a reader in law at KLS, shows that the vast majority of surrogates back the status quo. Of the 98 surrogates who answered the specific question on whether they should only be allowed to claim reasonable and verifiable expenses, 71% either strongly agreed or agreed.
She said: ‘The survey proves that altruism remains the overwhelmingly favoured route among UK surrogates. We also saw that financial accessibility of surrogacy was a major concern for intended parents.’
She added that surrogacy is an increasingly common way for couples who struggle to have children to complete their families. The number of Parental Orders – the mechanism that transfers legal parenthood from the surrogate to the parents – has increased from 63 in 2008/9 to 281 in 2017/18.
Another notable finding was that 84 per cent of respondents believe that UK law should be changed so that legal parenthood automatically rests with the parents at the point of birth. At present, the surrogate is the legal mother until the granting of a Parental Order months after the birth.
The current situation leaves new parents in legal limbo regarding their newborn child. Surrogacy UK’s Working Group on Surrogacy Law Reform has been campaigning for this aspect of the law to be changed so that legal parentage is transferred at the moment of birth.