There has been much press coverage of the House of Lords vote in favour of permitting ‘three-person IVF’ to prevent incurable genetic diseases.
Whatever the arguments for and against this landmark move, Britain has become the first country in the world to legalise the creation of babies using DNA from three people.
The move is, however, in marked contrast to that concerning surrogacy, where the law in this country lags significantly behind social development.
It is quite remarkable that, unlike our counterparts in, for example, many US states, it is still the case that commercial surrogacy in England and Wales is illegal. The law provides that surrogacy arrangements are only legal if no money other than ‘reasonable expenses’ is paid to the surrogate. More problematic is that a surrogacy arrangement is not recognised as a binding agreement between the commissioning parents and the surrogate.
The result is that we are left with a complex and troublesome system which creates uncertainty for those involved in the process.
This area of the law cries out for reform to help those couples who are seeking to overcome childlessness. It seems a strange state of affairs that we are seeing such forward-thinking legislative change when it comes to three-person babies, and yet an area of the law such as surrogacy, which has long called out for proper regulation, remains untouched.
Lois Langton, partner, Howard Kennedy, London SE1