New review says there is a lack of legal safeguarding to protect surrogate mothers
There is a lack of legal safeguarding in place to protect surrogate mothers and babies from exploitation, according to a new review.
No guidance is given to hospitals on how they should discharge babies born to surrogate mothers. The review, published in The Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, said staff should consult both hospital lawyers and risk management teams before deciding to discharge a baby separately from it’s biological mother.
The current practice in the UK was reviewed by consultant obstetricians who found the lack of legislation is putting mothers and babies at risk.
The number of surrogate births is expected to increase, after laws passed in 2010 gave same sex and unmarried couples the same legal rights as heterosexual couples to apply for parental orders after a child is born.
Surrogacy laws vary dramatically around the world, leaving healthcare professionals with ethical and legal dilemmas. Celia Burrell, consultant obstetrician at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospital NHS Trust said: ‘We are calling for additional legislation and guidelines to prevent women and babies being exploited, provide safeguards for children and guide professionals.’
Last March, a surrogate mother in the USA ran away to give birth and save her child after the parents-to-be suggested she have an abortion after finding out the baby had disabilities.
In 2011, a surrogate mother in the UK won the right to keep her child after discovering the would-be parents had a history of violence.
Dr Burrelll said that the existing laws are ‘precarious’ and that the welfare of the child should be the most important factor to take into account.