201603.04

Judge Highlights Need for Absolute Transparency in Foreign Surrogacies

Surrogacy arrangements are heavily regulated in Britain and a High Court judge has underlined the need for absolute transparency to ensure that children are not harmed. The judge made her comments in a case in which a surrogate mother was misinformed as to the identity of the father of the baby she was carrying.

A middle-aged woman and her husband had entered into a surrogacy arrangement through an unregulated clinic in Cyprus. They reached agreement with a prospective surrogate mother into whose womb their gametes were inserted. However, attempts at conception twice failed and the couple ultimately separated and divorced.

The woman and her new partner went to the same clinic but the surrogate mother was not informed of the change in the would-be father’s identity. The couple had been told by the clinic that there was no need to do so. The surrogate mother only discovered the truth when she was seven months pregnant and suffered enormous distress as a result of having been kept in the dark.

A baby was safely delivered and the couple sought an order formally recognising them as the child’s lawful parents. The judge expressed deep concern about the irregularities that had occurred and observed that the case once again highlighted the difficulties that can arise in foreign surrogacy cases. The surrogate mother should clearly have been told of the change to the embryo’s genetic make-up before it was implanted into her.

The judge nevertheless ruled that the child’s lifelong welfare demanded that the couple be granted the parental order sought. The surrogate mother and her husband did not regard themselves as the child’s parents and had consented to the order being made. The judge was also satisfied that the £13,000 paid to her for carrying the child represented reasonably incurred expenses.

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