This article is in response to the article by David Jones in the Daily Mail of Saturday 5th May critical of British childless couples using the services of Indian surrogate mothers and the front page lead story in today’s Daily Mail by Neil Sears and Jenny Hope critical of female students Cambridge University being offered £750 for their eggs.
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) is the statutory body in the United Kingdom that regulates and inspects all UK clinics providing in vitro fertilisation, artificial insemination and the storage of human eggs, sperm and embryos. It also regulates Human Embryo research.
It is the opinion of the British Gazette that the authority’s activities and remit be scaled back and should in future be responsible for overseeing the enforcement of the Human Reproductive Cloning Act 2001 that was introduced to explicitly prohibit reproductive cloning in the UK.
It is the opinion of the British Gazette that the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 and the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 should be radically amended.
According to the Department of Health, the 2008 Act’s key provisions are to:
- ensure that all human embryos outside the body – whatever the process used in their creation – are subject to regulation.
- ensure regulation of “human-admixed” embryos created from a combination of human and animal genetic material for research.
- ban sex selection of offspring for non-medical reasons. Sex selection is allowed for medical reasons – for example to avoid a serious disease that affects only boys.
- recognise same-sex couples as legal parents of children conceived through the use of donated sperm, eggs or embryos. These provisions enable, for example, the civil partner of a woman who carries a child via IVF – to be recognised as the child’s legal parent.
- retain a duty to take account of the welfare of the child in providing fertility treatment, but replace the reference to “the need for a father” with “the need for supportive parenting” – hence valuing the role of all parents.
- alter the restrictions on the use of HFEA-collected data to help enable follow-up research of infertility treatment.
It is the opinion of the British Gazette that the ban on sex selection of offspring for non-medical reasons be lifted. It is the opinion of the British Gazette that the ban on commercial surrogacy should be lifted and instead, all such contracts should be handled by a Surrogacy Agent and that this agent be subject to a Legal Services Act as a reserved activity. In other words, such arrangements would be handled by family law solicitors.
In addition the law relating to the parentage of a surrogate child should be changed. At present, a child born to a surrogate mother is legally her child and if the woman is married the woman’s husband is a legally responsible parent if he has consented to the surrogacy. This is regardless of the genetic parentage of the child. Thus in the case where the surrogate mother has been implanted with an embryo that has been produced using genetic material from another woman, English and Scottish Law still regards the surrogate as the mother.
It is the opinion of the British Gazette that English (and Scottish) law should be altered along the lines of the law in the Republic of Ukraine. In the Ukraine the legal parents of a child born to a surrogate mother are the commissioning parents.
The British Gazette would like to see English (and Scottish) law reformed so the legal parents of a child born to a surrogate mother are the commissioning parents and that the status of such children should be as follows:
- that when neither of the commissioning parents is a genetic parent the child has the status in law as the adopted child of the commissioning parents.
- that when only one the commissioning parents is a genetic parent the child has the same status in law as if it been sired or born to that parent “the way nature intended” and that the other commissioning parent has the status in law as the child’s adopted parent.
- that when the commissioning parents are the genetic parents the child has the same status in law as if it had been born to the commissioning mother and sired by the commissioning father “the way nature intended.”
This would mean that a married couple who were unable to have a child for medical reasons but were able to produce the genetic material required for such would be able to register any child produced through a contract of commercial surrogacy as their own and furthermore, if the genetic material from the commissioning parents is collected after the date of their marriage, a child born of such a commercial surrogacy should be regarded in law as being conceived and born within wedlock and as a result be regarded as being a lawful heir or heiress of the bodies of the commissioning married parents. There should in such circumstances be no question of a need to acquire either a parenting order of to go through a process of adopting the child.