Surrogacy in the UK and around the World

Recently Pope Francis has made headlines for condemning surrogate motherhood; he also went as far as recommending a call for a global ban. Here, Chelsea Taylor looks at Surrogacy Laws in the UK and around the World. 

The Pope’s comments may not come as a surprise to some, given the Catholic Church’s tradition which has consistently long opposed surrogacy. The Pope described the practice as ‘deplorable’ and the Pope’s remarks have rocked controversy amongst the world with surrogacy organisations, journalists and surrogate mothers criticising the Pope’s views.



Surrogacy is defined within the Warnock Report 1984, where a woman carries a child for another with the intention that the child be handed over at birth.

Surrogacy to many is considered a blessing and provides joy to individuals and couples who desire to become parents.

There are many reasons why people look for surrogacy as an alternative form to build a family. These include but are not limited to infertility, medical complications, same sex couples and single parents.

The Law on Surrogacy

There is no universal legislation on surrogacy and the practice of surrogacy differs between countries.

The practice of surrogacy is in fact illegal in many countries such as Italy, Spain and Germany.  Some countries on the other hand have no legal framework regulating surrogacy.

Surrogacy is legal in the UK, but surrogacy arrangements cannot be enforced by the law.


Ethical Considerations

Many countries permit ‘commercial surrogacy’ whereby a surrogate can be paid to carry a child for another individual or couple. For example, Ukraine and in some parts of the US.

Critics however will say that commercial surrogacy exploits women.  We saw an example of this from the ‘Greek Scandal’ last year where 8 people were arrested and accused of running illegal commercial surrogacy operations from a fertility clinic in Crete. The surrogate mothers’ being women who were trafficked to the country.

The UK takes an altruistic stance on surrogacy which means that the surrogate cannot be paid more than ‘reasonable expenses’.



One thing for certain is that there are many opinions for and against surrogacy.

The Pope’s narrative suggests that all surrogate mothers and surrogate born children are harmed in the practice of surrogacy. There are many cases where the parties involved have reported a positive experience and the surrogate child is much loved.

Surrogacy in the UK arguably exists successfully and is becoming a widely recognised pathway to parenthood. Data from the Children and Family Court in England and Wales shows that the demand for surrogacy has increased by 350% in the past 12 years.

Perhaps tighter regulations and legislation could be considered in the countries that permit surrogacy.

In the UK, the Law Commission published recommendations for an updated legal framework on surrogacy which in my view should be welcomed. Read more here.



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