Gammy’s story in Thailand throws a spotlight onto the practice of Surrogacy and may prompt calls for Surrogacy Laws to be reconsidered.
Few people could have missed the story of baby Gammy, who has found himself in the midst of a media storm about surrogacy in Thailand. The facts of Gammy’s story are far from clear and it seems that there is not yet certainty about who will ultimately “parent” him. The case throws a spotlight onto the practice of surrogacy and will doubtless raise questions in people’s minds about how surrogacy works in the UK.
Some media stories have appeared to link the problems which have arisen around who looks after Gammy with the fact that it is an overseas arrangement or that the surrogacy was taking place in exchange for cash payment. It may, therefore, come as a shock to some to learn that the same issue could arise here between a surrogate mother and “commissioning couple” (the couple who intend to be the child’s parents) who all live in the UK.
Surrogacy arrangements are unenforceable in the UK. Neither the surrogate mother nor the commissioning couple are under a legal obligation to go through with the agreement. When the child is born the commissioning couple could decide not to take the child (or children). Equally, the surrogate mother could decide to keep the child/children. In practice this is likely to occur relatively rarely but it is important that all parties considering surrogacy are aware that the risk is always there.
There are clear policy reasons behind the UK parliament’s decision to make surrogacy agreements unenforceable. It is an extremely complicated area. As a starting point, it would be a controversial law that permitted the forcible removal of a child from the woman who had given birth to him or her for purely contractual, non-welfare reasons. However, the case in Thailand, and the spotlight which it will inevitably throw onto the potential for similar problems in UK-based surrogacy arrangements, may prompt calls for surrogacy laws to be reconsidered.