International surrogacy: payments, policy and the media

An article entitled “International Surrogacy: Payments, Public Policy and Media Hype” which I co-authored has been published by Family Law in their May 2011 edition. The article examines the landmark High Court international surrogacy case of Re L (commercial surrogacy) [2010], which attracted front page national headlines in December 2010.

The parents had entered into a commercial surrogacy arrangement with a surrogate mother in Illinois, California, leading to the birth of a much wanted child.  Whilst the surrogacy arrangement was entered into lawfully in Illinois, it would have been unlawful to have entered into such an arrangement on a professional basis in the UK due to the public policy ban on commercial surrogacy. The parents successfully obtained a parental order and the case marks a legal watershed that the child’s welfare is now the court’s paramount consideration except in the clearest case of abuse of public policy.

English High Court Judge, Mr Justice Hedley, published the judgment due to the policy changes in international surrogacy and to send a clear message that intended parents need expert legal help and need to tackle the immigration and re-entry requirements into the UK before they enter into an international surrogacy arrangement.

The intense media coverage of the case brought the issue of payments into the spotlight, together with problems with existing surrogacy law in the UK, sparking debate and highlighting the apparent globalisation of the surrogacy market.

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