Parents of children born through surrogacy would no longer have to apply to the court to gain legal status under proposals unveiled today by the Law Commission, which has branded current laws 'outdated'.
The commission proposes allowing intended parents to become legal parents when the child is born, subject to the surrogate retaining a right to object for a short period of time. At present, intended parents must apply to the court after the child has been born and do not have legal status until the court grants a parental order.
Safeguards for those entering a surrogacy agreement would be needed, the commission says, such as independent legal advice.
The commission also proposes creating a surrogacy regulator, removing the requirement of a genetic link between the intended parents and the child where medically necessary, and creating a national register to allow children born through surrogact to access information.
The law currently permits intended parents to pay 'reasonable' expenses to the surrogate. The commission says this is unclear and difficult to apply in practice. While the commission does not make any specific proposals about payments, it wants to know what the public's views are.
The laws governing surrogacy came into effect in the 1980s.
Sir Nicholas Green, chair of the commission, said: 'More and more people are turning to surrogacy to have a child and start their family. We therefore need to make sure that the process is meeting the needs of all those involved. However, the laws around surrogacy are outdated and no longer fit for purpose. We think our proposals will create a system that works for surrogates, the parents and, most importantly, the child.'
The commission began reviewing surrogacy laws last year, after securing £150,000 in government funding. Legislation was changed this year allowing single parents to apply for parental orders and obtain a UK birth certificate.
The consultation closes on 27 September.