Number of parents using surrogates in England and Wales quadruples in 10 years

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Research co-led by Kent Law School Reader Dr Kirsty Horsey has found that more parents in England and Wales are having babies through surrogacy. The number of parental orders, which transfer legal parentage from a surrogate to the baby’s parents, rose from 117 in 2011 to 413 in 2020 according to figures.

In a new report published in collaboration with My Surrogacy Journey, a non-profit organisation in the UK supporting surrogates and intended parents, it also shows that two thirds of applications are from mixed sex couples, predominantly in their thirties and forties.

Dr Horsey, whose research the original report is based on is currently in a two-year position as a Senior Research Associate at the London Women’s Clinic (LWC) and London Egg Bank. She said:

‘It is great to see such positive reporting on surrogacy in the mainstream media, particularly as the Law Commissions are currently reviewing the law on surrogacy, which I have long argued is out of date and in need of reform. It is to be hoped that reports such as this will feed into public and parliamentary debates on how any new law should look and enable progressive law reform to take place.

‘In my current role, the clinical data we have supports the findings of the original report. Our clinical experience (about which we have recently submitted a research paper detailing our involvement in and outcomes from over 100 surrogacy treatments that took place in LWC and its satellite clinic at Cardiff between 2014 and 2021), appears to support the conclusions shown in the report: for example that the number of surrogacy arrangements happening each year is steadily rising year on year, as is the proportion of surrogacies being undertaken by same sex couples from the UK.’

Dr Horsey is a specialist on the regulation of surrogacy. Her long-term research project focuses on reform of the UK’s laws on surrogacy. She has worked with external non-profit and charitable organisations to facilitate and encourage reform. One such collaborative project – the SurrogacyUK Working Group on Surrogacy Law Reform – led to the publication of two Research Reports on the state of the law governing surrogacy, together with recommendations for reform, in 2015 and 2018. Dr Horsey is also part of the secretariat for the All Party Parliamentary Group on Surrogacy.