While the practice of surrogacy has benefited from advances in medical technology and progressive reductions in associated stigmas, current surrogacy regulation in the UK, enshrined in the UK Surrogacy Arrangements Act 1985, has failed to keep pace. Only informal surrogacy arrangements, whereby the parties are forced to rely on trust rather than legal security for fulfillment, are permitted. Jurisdictions where commercial surrogacy is legal, notably California, provide an apt comparator as to how the law may be changed, as well as the difficulties that may be faced along the way.
This project will provide opportunities for extensive engagement with public involved in surrogacy, as well as meaningful impact on future regulation of surrogacy. Reaching out to surrogacy organisations, fertility support groups, and LGBT+ family groups for the qualitative empirical research component allows for an open dialogue with underrepresented demographics about their understanding of reproductive agency, thereby informing improvements into surrogates and would-be-surrogates’ reproductive rights and health and well-being, as well as elucidating the prevalence of surrogacy. A qualitative investigation will enable an honest expression of the surrogates and would-be-surrogates within the legal context, furthering the goal of improving reproductive rights, and creating a healthier public.
Limited research has been conducted into the experiences of surrogates and little is known about the demographics of surrogates in the UK. In addition to looking at the relation between the lived experiences of surrogates and its effect on reproductive agency, their health and well-being, this research will address the lacuna in qualitative empirical research in this field by exploring and comparing the intersection of surrogates’ and would-be-surrogates’ experiences with the socio-cultural legal structure of both jurisdictions. This study examines whether the current regulatory framework is fit for purpose through an exploration of the lived experiences of surrogates. The aim is to create and sustain a culture and environment that promotes the health and well-being of surrogates by developing an alternative legal framework of surrogacy regulation, informed by surrogates’ experiences. Surrogacy laws in the UK are under review, demonstrated by the Law Commission’s inclusion of surrogacy regulation in their Programme of Law Reform, and so, the aim of this project is to feed into their reports and consultation papers as it progresses.
Are you, or have you been, a surrogate in the past 5 years? Would you be interested in sharing your experience? More info here