The number of babies born through surrogacy has risen, due to improvements in fertility technology and the reduced stigma about non-traditional families. Some 214 surrogate babies were registered with the courts in 2014-15, up from 138 in 2011-12.
Surrogate births are governed by the 1985 Surrogacy Arrangements Act, which bans commercial payments and requires a six-week period immediately after a baby is born before parties can apply to the courts for a formal transfer of parental rights. Campaigners and lawyers argue such rules are now outdated. The Government has said that reforms to the surrogacy law could be introduced by 2020.
But for now new mothers are getting upset at how they are being forced to hold their new children in such sterile conditions as the hospital car park. One new mother described how “[Hospital staff] took us off the premises. They got the surrogate’s husband to come and escort us out. He physically carried the baby out of the hospital and handed us the baby in the car park. It seems hospitals don’t want to take any responsibility in case a legal dispute occurs and it has happened on their territory so they’re liable.”
She explained: “We felt like we were stealing a baby. It put a huge strain on everything. There’s an overwhelming sense you’ve done something wrong by having a child through surrogacy. We’re good law-abiding people and we were treated like we’d done something wrong. I felt incredibly vulnerable.”
An interesting link to this story is the recent BBC Scotland documentary by Alex Jones entitled Fertility and Me which sets out the statistics on infertility as well as the emotional turmoil couples feel when they don’t get pregnant as quickly or easily as they hope.