This open letter, signed by 27 UK organisations, 24 international organisations, and 794 individuals, calls on the UK Law Commissioners to scrap the biased consultation on their flawed proposals to open up commercial-style surrogacy in the UK and to go back to the drawing board, this time centring women’s and children’s welfare and human rights.
UK and Scottish Law Commissioners
Copies to: the Lord Chancellor, Shadow Lord Chancellor, and Members of the APPG on Surrogacy.
11 October 2019
Dear Law Commissioners
We are writing to express our concern about your joint consultation on proposals to open up commercial-style surrogacy in the UK. We believe both the proposals and the consultation are so flawed that they should be scrapped and restarted centring women’s and children’s human rights.
1. Does not conform to accepted methodology or even the government’s own consultation guidelines
The consultation paper runs to 502 dense and technical pages and has 118 questions, most requiring open-ended answers about detailed technicalities, and many with multiple parts.
There are no simple and straightforward questions about the broad issues – such as whether you think paid surrogacy can ever be ethical, particularly while women’s poverty and inequality between the sexes are hurtling backwards.
Similarly there are no questions about whether you agree with the high-level proposals, such as the ‘new pathway’ as a whole. This is dishonest because in isolation many of the details appear sound. For example, who could object to pre-conception medical checks on all the participants? Our concern is that any agreement to the details may be taken as agreement with the ‘new pathway’ as a whole. This is a major concern given there are no high-level questions and means that the results of the consultation are likely to misrepresent many people’s actual views.
2. Does not comply with the public sector equality duty (PSED)
Our understanding is that the law commissioners are obliged to comply with the PSED when carrying out public functions (such as drafting proposals for new legislation and policy and conducting a consultation on those proposals) but there is no evidence this has been done. As surrogacy has a very different impact on women and children than on adult males, we believe the law commissioners are in breach of equality legislation.
3. Uses spurious and discredited ‘human rights’ justifications
The consultation paper uses the spurious and discredited ‘procreative liberty’ argument to justify a ‘human right’ to a child through surrogacy, while more or less ignoring the internationally accepted human rights of women and children to not be instrumentalised and commodified, and that third parties should not profit from that.
Similarly the consultation paper suggests that a woman’s right to choose what to do with her own body justifies a ‘human right’ to enter into a paid surrogacy arrangement as a birth mother. This is the same argument that promoters of the sex industry use to justify prostitution and it is clearly absurd. It is always the most marginalised women with the fewest options who end up in prostitution and being used as birth mothers in surrogacy arrangements.
4. Does not conform to binding legal obligations under human rights treaties
The consultation paper admits that it is unlikely that commercial surrogacy could ever conform to CEDAW and then proceeds to ignore this. Similarly it mentions obligations under the UNCRC and its first optional protocol and the recommendations of the UN Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children, but then appears to engage smoke and mirrors to pretend the proposals do not conflict with these obligations when clearly they do.
Moreover the consultation paper (e.g. on page 85) suggests that obligations under ratified human rights conventions are not legally binding. However, our understanding is that ratification of a human rights convention does place a legally binding obligation on the state to implement its terms. This is of particular relevance when drawing up proposals for new legislation.
It seems to us that there is no possible justification for consulting on proposals that are in direct violation of the human rights conventions that the UK has ratified and yet this appears to be what the law commissioners have done.
5. No consideration of the medical risks
Surrogacy is a branch of reproductive medicine and any new laws should be informed by the medical processes and risks to the health, safety and wellbeing of the women who are the key participants in the process and the children who result. There is no evidence, however, that the law commissioners consulted with medical experts, such as midwives, specialists in obstetrics and gynaecology, and child health, before drawing up their detailed proposals.
Apparently at one of the official consultation events, one of the law commissioners threw up his hands and said “we are not doctors, we are lawyers” and explained they hadn’t concerned themselves with medical matters. How can this be justified when the risks are profound and include death?
One of the arguments for banning payment of organ harvesting is that it puts health professionals in the invidious position where any pretence at dispassionate care is compromised by the direct conflict of interests of the ‘donor’ and the receiver of the organ. This argument applies equally to egg donation and surrogacy and yet it is not considered at all.
6. No consideration of the linked and dangerous practice of egg harvesting
Modern surrogacy is predicated on a supply of eggs harvested from healthy young women. This is a dangerous process that carries serious health risks, including premature death, and there are major ethical issues involved – and yet the consultation maintains complete silence on this. Nor is there any mention that pregnancies using a different woman’s eggs carry significant additional medical risks – even though this is now the norm in surrogacy arrangements.
7. No consideration of the psychological risks to the birth mother and baby
There is little long-term research on the outcomes of surrogacy to birth mothers and babies, because it is only relatively recently that it has been practiced on a large scale. However, there is extensive research on the outcomes of adoption, which has close parallels.
Studies of women who gave up babies for adoption find that they tend to suffer chronic grief for the rest of their lives and have heightened susceptibility to psychological problems, up to and including suicide. Studies of adopted children have found that they are susceptible to similar difficulties – even when their adoptive parents were loving and their basic needs were well met. Many experts now consider these risks to be related to the separation of the mother and infant at or shortly after birth.
These risks were not considered or even mentioned, and nor were the consequences for society as a whole and the financial costs to the NHS and other public services that will inevitably be left to pick up the pieces.
8. No measures to prevent and criminalise coercing women into participation
It is well-known that women and girls are groomed and coerced into prostitution by partners who act as their pimp and take all or much of their earnings. The same dynamics inevitably occur in relation to surrogacy when it is paid.
Pimping is a criminal offence – which, even though it is poorly enforced, sends out a clear message that it is wrong. But the consultation paper does not recognise that if implemented, the proposals will inevitably be accompanied by attempts to coerce young women into acting as a ‘surrogate’ mother for someone else’s financial and material benefit and there is no provision for measures to address this.
How can this be justified, when there are reports [*] in the press almost daily about unscrupulous people exploiting marginalised women’s eggs and babies for profit?
9. No serious consideration of the coercive forces of payments in the current environment of extreme inequality
The law commissioners propose removing all restrictions on advertising surrogacy in the UK. Young women are already being targeted with adverts for ‘donating’ their eggs and if these proposals are implemented, Facebook and Google will inevitably also present ads to young women suggesting that surrogacy can be a solution to their financial difficulties. How can this be ethical at this time of worsening inequality?
A recent Guardian article reported that student accommodation now costs on average 73% of the funding students can receive through loans and grants. As a result the majority of students need to find additional sources of income while studying. This impacts young women more seriously than young men because they have fewer opportunities for decently paid casual work. These economic inequalities, and the way girls are socialised to put other people’s needs ahead of their own, make women particularly vulnerable to being enticed into surrogacy arrangements when it’s not in their best interests.
If the proposals (including a minimum age of 18 and no requirement for having already had a child) go ahead, there is a very real risk that very young women will become ‘surrogate’ mothers under the coercion of poverty and that this will have a hugely detrimental impact on their life chances and happiness.
The consultation paper includes no consideration of this. Instead it seems the primary concern is to facilitate and ease the acquisition of a baby by the commissioning ‘parents’ in clear breach of obligations under the PSED.
10. No consideration of the inherent inequality of the surrogacy relationship
Under the proposals for a ‘new pathway,’ legal parenthood will be conferred automatically on the commissioning ‘parents’ at the moment of birth with the birth mother having only a five week window (shorter in Scotland) from the moment of birth to register her objections. If she objects, the decision will be made by the courts, with the criteria favouring the commissioning ‘parents.’
This will have a chilling effect on the legal recognition of the unique nature of the mother-child bond, with potentially serious implications for all women and children down the line. Yet there does not appear to have been consideration of any of this, nor of the gross inequality of the situation, should the birth mother find she simply cannot give the baby up. She will have just gone through the upheaval of pregnancy and giving birth and is likely to be poor and with little legal or social support – while the commissioning ‘parents’ will have lawyers and agencies behind them who will have many financial and commercial reasons for wanting the arrangement to be legally sealed. At no point does the consultation paper consider the plight of that young woman and her human rights, nor of the child’s human right to his or her birth mother and the well documented consequences of disrupting the continuity of care in the first three years of life.
11. No recognition that there are other options than surrogacy
We recognise the anguish of hankering for a child of ones own that cannot be. However, we do not believe that surrogacy is a reasonable solution to this anguish. It simply transfers the anguish onto others – usually a woman, who is marginalised in one way or another, and the child who is born of the arrangement.
There is no absolute human right to have all our wishes and dreams fulfilled, and disappointment and frustration are inevitable parts of human life.
We believe that there are many other ways of looking at the problem of childlessness and that at this time of imminent environmental catastrophe and deepening inequality and poverty, it is profoundly irresponsible to not do so.
12. Does not comply with the law commissioners’ own code of practice
The UK law commissioners’ code of practice states that responsibilities include “ensuring that the Commission properly takes account of the diverse needs of all those affected by its proposals.” It should be stunningly obvious from the above that they have abjectly failed to do this in this project.
The consultation page on the Law Commission website states that the surrogacy project falls into the “Property, family and trust law” area of law and that the commissioner in charge is Professor Nicholas Hopkins, whose chief area of interest and expertise is “law as it applies to land.”
As women, the terrible irony is not lost on us that this project that is designed to make it easier for men in particular to gain access to children (as if they are private property) by instrumentalising women as wombs (as if they are public property), is being run by a man who has no known expertise in children’s welfare or women’s rights but who is instead an expert in the law of property.
We hope that the law commissioners and all involved have the integrity to acknowledge that putting forward these proposals without considering all the implications for women and children is unconscionable.
It seems to us that the law commissioners were captured by a well organised lobby of people with vested interests in opening up commercial-style surrogacy here in the UK. We know that they can be very persuasive and persistent because some of them have trolled our social media accounts. However, they must be seen for what they are – a lobby of individuals with a lot to gain personally by the opening up of commercial-style surrogacy and who are blind to the needs of others and the best interests of society as a whole.
Legislation and policy must always put the needs of the most vulnerable first and clearly the law commissioners have failed to do this.
We urge the law commissioners to return to the drawing board and start afresh under the leadership of a female expert in women’s and children’s human rights and a healthy degree of scepticism for the voices of those who stand to benefit commercially and materially.
When viewed dispassionately, we believe there is no possible conclusion except that a total ban on surrogacy is the only approach that conforms to human rights obligations.
For a more in-depth discussion of our concerns, please see the following articles on our website:
- The Law Commission’s Surrogacy Consultation: How to bamboozle through a dangerous new law
- Why the UK surrogacy consultation should be abandoned
- Nordic Model Now!
- Women’s Voices Matter
- Campaign Against Sex Robots
- Cardiff Resisters
- CitizenGO UK
- Click Off
- Essex Feminist Collective
- Leeds Spinners
- Liverpool ReSisters
- London Irish Feminist Network
- Mayday 4 Women
- Not Buying It
- Not For Sale in Scotland
- Older women’s group, Totnes.
- Radical Feminists Unite
- ReSisters United
- Rooms of our Own
- Scary Little Girls Association
- SWAP Scottish Women Against Pornography
- The Judith Trust
- The Recovery Hub Ipswich
- YES Matters UK
- Obradoiro Feminista
- Asociación Los Antón Follas Vivas
- ABSA (Abolish Surrogacy Australia)
- ASAMBLEA FEMINISTA 8M
- Asociación Equidad e Igualdad
- Asociación feminista Gafas Moradas
- Attard Ladies Cultural Club
- Center for Bioethics & Culture
- Edmonton Small Press Association (ESPA)
- Edmonton Women & Allies Against the Sex Industry
- FINRRAGE (Australia)
- Gafas Moradas
- Malta Confederation of Women’s organisations
- Marea Violeta de Jerez
- Mujeres por la Abolición
- Mujeres Supervivientes de violencias.
- PETRA Maternidades Feministas
- Plataforma Feminista 8M
- Plataforma Navarra de Mujeres por la Abolición de la Prostitución
- Stop Vientres de Alquiler
- Tertulia Feminista Les Comadres
|Adelina María Martín Martín|
|Aimee Gatliffe||This makes me very scared. If babies are treated like products to be bought and sold, this has real world ramifications as well as troubling ethical ones|
|Alan Neale||The law should not be based on the notion of ‘procreative liberty’. No-one has a ‘right to reproduce.’ Surrogacy should be outlawed, not regulated.|
|Alejandra Bernardo Andrés|
|Alessandra Asteriti||Women are not breeding animals and children are not a commodity|
|Alexandra Macdonald||I don’t think enough consideration has been given to the protection of the poorest and most vulnerable women in society. A child is not a commodity to be bought and sold. I am desperately sorry that childless people experience such pain but who explains to the child how they came into the world? what about the pain that may cause?|
|Alexandra Poynton||I am horrified at the one-sided approach of these proposals, which are entirely in the interests of the commissioning parents, and do not appear to consider the many risks (both medical and emotional) to the surrogate mother and the child. We should be moving towards the ethos of other civilised European countries, which are banning surrogacy, and for very sound reasons.|
|Alison Jenner||I’m worried that there is little consideration for the women who either provide eggs and gestate them or gestate donated eggs.|
|Alix Connelly||It contravenes the UN protection of women and children|
|Allison Jones||This is shocking and just plain wrong|
|Amanda Ross||This opens the door to paid organ donation, which is also clearly unethical.|
|Ana Canal Gutiérrez|
|Ana Estrella Ryan|
|Ana Galbis Calomarde|
|Ana García de Polavieja Aguilar|
|Ana ysabel varela da silva|
|Andrea Jackson||I support the letter of complaint|
|Andrés M. Florián Q.||Surrogacy is nothing more than the exploitation of women’s reproductive capacity and the sale of their babies. It is human trafficking. It is slavery.|
|Angela Munuera Bassols||To make the use of women’s wombs for surrogate pregnancy legal would be the legalization of a new form of slavery. Slavery was banned by our ancestors. Let us keep track with them.|
|Angela Navarro Martinez|
|Ann Hall||I am in total agreement with the points raised here. There must be a total ban on surrogacy to avoid exploitation and objectification.|
|Anna Caro||Surrogacy is exploitation of women and of children|
|Anne Bevan||You must not legislate for taking control of women’s bodies and making babies objects to be traded.|
|Anne Todd||Signing as an adopted person who is aware of the complexities of adoption and I am concerned about issues around surrogacy for mother and baby.|
|Annette Lawson OBE||The Judith Trust works to close the gaps for people (especially women) who have both learning disability and mental ill heath. Such women are vulnerable to coercion and to financial incentives. This consultation leaves out vital ethical overarching arguments. It is incomplete and starts from an acceptance (it would appear) that wombs can be rented.|
|Annette Catherine||The framing of this consultation has has been disingenuous and should not stand. The public should have a full right to say whether they support surrogacy or not.|
|Annie Gwillym Walker||I believe the consultation to be overly complicated in its presentation. This subject is, of course deeply complex but should be presented to the public in a format that is more easily understood. We are all aware that it is women in poverty who would be attracted if surrogacy became an industry. Let us not further exploit women.|
|Annie Morris||Women and children are not commodities.|
|Auxiliadora Jiménez León|
|Azucena Jiménez López|
|Beatriz Tabernero Moya|
|Berta O. García|
|Brenda Frost||I don’t want my grandchildren to grow up in this kind of world.|
|Brigitte Lechner||I made an attempt to respond to the consultation but gave up for several of the reasons listed above|
|C. Eileen Lynch|
|Carina Moravec||Please abandon this awful idea until it has been thought through properly.|
|Carlos Martínez Aguado||Having a child can’t ever be a business.|
|Carmen||Women and children are not objects to be used and sold|
|Carmen Bailón Ramos||Women are not ovens, and babies are not products.|
|Carmen de la Rosa|
|Carmen López Barreal|
|Carmen Morell Muñoz|
|Carmen Pérez Martínez|
|Carmen San Segundo Cordero|
|Carmen Sánchez Maldonado||NO SOMOS VASIJAS
WE ARE NOT VESSELS
|Carol Angharad||How low can we go in this country? Babies for sale now?|
|Carol O’BYrne||The best interests of the child should be the chief concern. Also, the protection of the women acting as surrogates should be a huge priority given the risks & vulnerabilities of pregnancy and childbirth.|
|Caroline Davenport Thomas||Surrogacy is not in the best interests of the Mother or baby. It is the buying of a child.|
|Caroline Horne||I agree fully with this letter.|
|Carolyn Costigan||The rights of the child should not be overlooked.|
|Catherine Harper||This Consultation is deeply flawed. It is profit-led ignoring the welfare and rights of the women and children. Our position calls for a total ban on surrogacy and that this UK Consultation be abandoned.|
|Catherine Healey||Please! This is terrible!|
|Catherine Stevenson||A flawed and dangerous consultation.|
|Celeste Piozza||NO TO RENT BELLIES!!|
|Celsa Muñoz Leira|
|Charlotte Delaney||Find me a rich comfortable woman who is happy to rent her womb out…. Also what does this mean for the kids who are born this way?|
|Christine McConnell||Please think very carefully about this.|
|Cindy Douglas||I am deeply concerned about the push towards commercialisation through the language used and the proposed changes that this proposal represents.|
|Cindy Le Bideau|
|Claire Quatermass||Economic coercion is not consent.|
|Cristina Galán rubio|
|Cristina Hernandez de Dios|
|Cristina Roig Amade|
|Dawne Brown||I am appalled at this blatant push to commercialise surrogacy and disregard the motivation of poor women to participate. The paucity of considered, responsible consultation beggars belief.|
|Dea Le Bargy|
|Debbie Barker||I have been a surrogate and it has destroyed my life.|
|Debbie Taylor-Osborne||No woman should feel that the only way for them to survive is through selling their body. Only men benefit from this.|
|Denise Prideaux||Women are not portable wombs and pregnancy and birth are dangerous undertakings. A human baby is not goods for sale. This is an immoral and dangerous trade, into which women and girls are already being trafficked and coerced, worldwide. Look at the example of Germany’s legalisation of brothels, and see what results when you throw safeguarding out of the window. The rich exploit the poor, and criminals prey on them to supply the depraved consumer “demand”. This is the sale of children, and the reproductive enslavement and pitiable exploitation of women in poverty.
Do not abandon these vulnerable people to the market.
|Diana Cendrero Brown|
|Dr Anna Ziad Loutfi|
|Dr Cara Marshall|
|Dr Catharine Coleman|
|DR HOPE M. MACDONALD|
|Dr Kate Baxter|
|Dr Lesley Semmens|
|Dr Louise Irvine|
|Dr Marie Therese Cuschieri|
|Dr Pamela Osborn|
|Dr Paul Hewson PhD CStat CSci|
|Dr Renate Klein||Surrogacy needs to be abolished as it is a human rights violation of the so-called surrogate mother (a misnomer), the egg ‘donor’ and the children born from surrogacy who never asked to be ‘take away’ babies.|
|Dr Sarah Smith|
|Eleanor Walsh||The consultation MUST be accessible to all; it is too important an issue to get wrong.|
|Elisa Pidal Pardo|
|Elisabeth Winkler||Surrogacy is a human rights issue with huge implications for vulnerable young women and children. Once money is involved, the potential for trafficking and abuse is real. I speak as a mother, grandmother and former ante-natal teacher: bringing a child into the world is a huge responsibility. I do not want to commoditise children and pregnancy. It is much more complex than that – and, as we know from adoption, many children need to know their origins.|
|Elizabeth Carola||Please rethink. Women–and all people–in poverty need genuine economic choice.|
|Elizabeth Purslow||Growing numbers of countries in Asia are banning surrogacy to protect their population from exploitation. Several European countries such as France, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland ban surrogacy. The UK alone is seeking to ease the path for international surrogacy tourism whilst opening up a commercial market at home. A truly shameful position to be in.|
|Emily Garcia||ReSisters United vehemently opposes the commercialisation of surrogacy. We believe this proposal represents yet another prong in the current wave of attacks on the rights and status of women and girls in society.|
|Emma Abella Cruz|
|Emma Idzikowska||Women and babies are not commodities|
|Esther Díaz Pedroche|
|Esther Menéndez López|
|Estoy de acuerdo||No estoy de acuerdo con los la subrogación, o vientre de alquiler|
|Estoy de acuerdo y quiero apoyar|
|Eva Carretero del Castillo|
|Eve Becher||Women’s bodies should not be commodified.|
|Fiona oldam||All I can see in this act is the abuse of women by men.
Babies are not a right of life. There are other options to bring up children including many children already in care needing homes.This act has huge implications for all involved. Vulnerable young women will be targeted. I cannot see enough evidence of procedures in place to prorect the vulnerable people involved. There is no need for surrogacy and certainly no need to advertise it as a standard approach. I don’t want my young daughter to see these adverts and feel it is a choice.
|Francisca Lopex Arias|
|Frankie Spence||Children want mothers. I’ve taught children being brought up without their mothers. They still make Mother’s Day cards for them, even when they never see them. They yearn for them. Please don’t deny children their mothers. Don’t deny them being nursed by their mothers, don’t deny them the chance to be nurtured by their mothers. This isn’t to say male gay parents don’t make brilliant parents – they do whether they foster, adopt or have a child with a woman who then shares parental responsibility/care with them. I’ve known happy children who are parented, in separate households, by a mum and gay dads. And I’ve known children who yearn to know their mothers and carry the burden of not knowing them. Please do not burden children with this loss.|
|Gail Chester||If nothing else, the inordinate length and the incomprehensible nature of the questions of the full consultation means that this consultation should be withdrawn. I am reasonably well acquainted with the issues involved, and I gave up completely trying to deal with the full consultation document.|
|Gary Powell||So-called ‘altruistic’ surrogacy arrangements are a cheaper version of commercial surrogacy, and the same objections apply to surrogacy as apply to the selling of human organs. It is a wealth-based exploitative activity reinforcing a two-tiered society and the commodification of women and children.|
|Gemma Aitchison||Women are people, not objects|
|Gunilla S. Ekberg|
|Hannah Green||Women’s bodies are not a commodity for rental. Exploitation in this field is inevitable. Alienation of the resulting individuals born or harvested this way is inevitable. Unethical for those reasons. There are other ways to start a family.|
|Hazel Turner Lyons|
|Heather de Jong|
|Helen Elster Jones|
|Helen Lewarne||We take too little account of the dangers in pregnancy, possibility of stillbirth or the birth of a child with disabilities that the prospective parents may reject. Surrogacy is not a mere private, financial exchange.|
|Helen Oyintanda||The Law Commission’s work has shown them to treat pregnancy and birth as if a person was buying a fancy car! Surrogacy using the body, healthy and well being of a woman to create a brand new autonomous human being.
The existing law recognises that human trafficking is a horrendous wrong.
The proposals pay no regard to the new life – they can just be purchased. It shows no regard for the fact that women are being allowed to be encouraged to sell their ova (that formed inside their mother’s bodies) and are having too many ova removed. It pays no regard to the psychological and physical bonding with the birthing mother. It treats all of this as just raw materials and processes. It is absolutely inhumane.
All that is bad enough without the added disgrace of it being a for-profit endeavour.
Block commercial human trafficking in the form of baby manufacturing.
|Helena Linares Ramírez|
|Inmaculada Correas Jiménez|
|Iria María Rodríguez Pérez|
|Iria Rodriguez Seijo||I think this practise attack the human rights.|
|Isabel Piñar Gómez|
|J A S|
|J. Lawrenson||It is acknowledged that the Ukraine has a thriving foreigner driven surrogacy market – as is usual, the temptation to earn money from harvesting eggs or acting as a surrogate is a lure for women who live in poverty or who lack the skills to earn money or who are economically disadvantaged.
Because of the numbers of women involved, and the infrastructure that exists on the back of these women, it is recognised that the economic benefits of surrogacy to the region preclude legislation to reform its surrogacy laws
On the other hand, agencies, middlemen, clinics and lawyers have no cap on the fees they charge with none of the risk – surely an exploitative situation.
It is my opinion that commercial surrogacy should not be allowed. Private arrangements within families that really are altruistic acts must of course be allowed, but there is something distasteful about the law seeking to legislate around a woman’s womb and her capacity to maintain a pregnancy.
There is no human right to have a child or to be the parent of a child
|J. S.||I have up-close and personal experience of the problems of surrogacy-the lure of its cash incentives to alleviate poverty-the hidden costs of health and psychological well-being-the conflict of interests resulting in exploitation-the child treated as a commodity, and the female as property to be used whilst her womb is in rent, and then discarded or sold-on afterwards. A Handmaid’s Tale of our time; of the realities of surrogacy warping procreative liberties for personal gain, and disrupting the mother/child bond essential to health and development.|
|Jane Callahan||Surrogacy commodifies women as reproduction vessels for richer people. Do not enshrine this into law.|
|Jean Fuller||Women and babies are not products|
|Jenny Taylor||Surrogacy is renting of the womb and is not a medical necessity. Please can we treat women as full human beings and not just as a collection of isolated body parts that can be rented out according to the highest bidder.|
|Jill Nesbitt||I’m appalled at the idea of women’s bodies being used in this way|
|Jorge F. M.|
|Josefa Diaz ortega|
|Julia Pajares Gil|
|Karen Davies||If we don’t allow vulnerable people to sell their kidneys we should not allow them to sell their bodies and babies.|
|Karin meier cacharo|
|Katrina Glennie||As soon as money, enters a situation especially this one, there are too many vested interest for the arrangement to be in the baby’s best interests|
|Kay Warner||Daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, signing for all women and the children they bear.|
|Kaye McIntosh||The consultation is deeply flawed. It must be cancelled and, if it is not dropped, completely redesigned to make it possible for members of the public to give their views. It must also address crucial ethical issues, including the necessary and important equalities impact assessment. It must also address ethical issues, medical concerns and women’s rights. It is not good enough for the law commissioners to say ‘we are lawyers’ and to refuse to address the medical issues of medical procedures. Do some research.|
|Kelly Frost||These proposals are straight out of the Handmaid’s Tale. Terrifying.|
|Kimberlee Ponson||Women are not broodmares.|
|Laetitia Pichevin-Harrison||The proposed new pathway entirely disregards the risks of exploitation of women’s reproductive capacities and of child trafficking. It is unethical, commodifies women’s bodies and children. It is biased toward the rights of the prospective parents to purchase a child and goes against human rights. It needs to be scrapped.|
|Latiesas Rodriguez, Sofia|
|Laura Álvarez Paz|
|Laura Gallego Garcia|
|Laura Isabel Gómez García|
|Laura McCormick||I am having fertility difficulties, the passing of this legislation would benefit me, but it is tantamount to human trafficking and must not be allowed to become law.|
|Laura Rivas Martínez||Women are not pieces of meat and cannot be sold or rented, for whatever purpose. Surrogacy is reproductive exploitation.|
|Lee wiles||Having a baby is not a human right, women’s bodies are not for sale and neither are babies. Commercial surrogacy impacts in the most poor and vulnerable of women those we should be protected and uplifting not using them as incubators.please consider this|
|Liane Timmermann||This is a disgrace.|
|Lisa Ware||Women and children must never be commodities|
|Lola Fernández Palenzuela|
|Lola Rodríguez Fernández|
|Lola Rodríguez López|
|Lola Rodríguez Martínez|
|Lola Ruíz Gomez|
|Lorena Gómez López|
|Louise Williams||Obtuse, unfair and inappropriate. This consultation should be scrapped. You’ve missed the point.|
|Lourdes Ortiz Pérez|
|Luba Fein||In Israel, gestational surrogacy is legalized and regulated by the ‘Embryo Carrying Agreements Law.’ This is a form of state-controlled surrogacy in which each and every contract must be approved directly by the state.
The law stipulates that the surrogacy process must be carried out according to an agreement approved by the Special Certification Committee, which includes physicians from various fields, social workers and jurists. All agreements are submitted to this committee. Applicants are required to supply a long list of documents: surrogate mother and intended parents’ medical certifications, criminal records of intended parents, feedback from psychologists and social workers, etc. The law permits the intended parents to pay the surrogate mother a fee to cover her expenses and compensation for loss of income, etc. The purpose of this law is to prevent abuse and exploiting of vulnerable women. Thus, the Committee is expected to identify poor, vulnerable and disadvantaged women who have been pushed to surrogacy because of debts and other adversities, and to prevent their exploitation. The committee should also identify families with questionable motives for having children.
The total payment to the surrogate mother is currently about 40,000 pounds. The contractual agreement between the parties is structured in such a way that the surrogate mother receives most of the money after delivery, which guarantees her willingness to stay pregnant.
Indeed, in the media and social networks we see many middle-class surrogate mothers who testify that their choice was free and educated. They were driven by conviction and money was a secondary motive.
Despite the oversight, some uncomfortable pieces of evidence of local surrogacy can be found in Israeli media. The following is the summary of coverage made by a feminist journalist Liat Bar Stav:
1. Most surrogate mothers go through several fertilization attempts, and sometimes they have miscarriages. IVF pregnancy is always considered as a “pregnancy at risk,” so the chance of miscarriage is higher. IVF is a medical process that causes physical harm. A number of artificial fertilization attempts, sometimes followed by miscarriages, harm a surrogate mother physically and mentally.
2. The maximum number of IVF attempts is six (!). A surrogate mother can go through six failed fertilization attempts, harm herself physically and mentally, and only get insignificant compensation.
3. Occasionally surrogate mothers are indicative of the over-parenting of their intended parents, who make attempts to limit their diet, prevent them from traveling etc. Obviously, when a surrogate mother is suffering from abusive interaction with the intended parents, she cannot “resign” from work in the middle.
4. There are cases where the pregnancy is terminated due to fetal malformation. Even then, the compensation is insignificant.
Another article, from 2014, claims that :
1. A maximum number of fertilization attempts are six, but special permission can be obtained for further fertilization attempts. The article has testimony from a woman who has undergone nine fertilization attempts, all of which failed. The compensation the woman receives was extremely negligible; about £ 120 for a single failed fertilization attempt (cost of living in the UK and Israel is similar).
2. A case is documented in which the surrogate mother collapsed mentally because of the pressure from the intended parents (before she was impregnated). It says that the intended parents “agreed to release her from the agreement without penalty.” This means she was not compensated and could also pay a fine in such a vulnerable situation.
Another important point: surrogacy of Israeli couples mostly happens abroad, in countries known as commercial surrogacy destinations (such as Georgia), in harsh conditions, while exploiting economic gaps between countries. Once the process is legal and socially acceptable – most people will, by nature, try to simplify it, avoid bureaucracy and pay less for it. Even under a relatively strict Israeli law, normalized surrogacy causes harm to the surrogate mothers, and also encourages the continued exploitation of disadvantaged women in poorer countries.
|Lucía Babiano||Women are human|
|Lucía Siading||Have you forgotten what adoption is? You are using women’s gestation capacity as a baby-creating machine!!! If a baby is born, the woman who got pregnant of her or him, is the mother, unless it’s given on adoption, but anyway, the baby must know about her or his origins!!! Stop baby trafficking please.|
|Luisa María López Garzón||No a los vientres de alquiler. “No somos vasijas”|
|Luz Arantza Crespo Dorrego|
|Lynn Alderson||Laws must not be changed without a thorough examination of their impact, particularly on disadvantaged groups such as women for whom many factors may distort the notion of ‘choice’.|
|M. Rocío Navarro Fosar|
|Mª Montserrat Díaz Pedroche|
|Marcia Hibberd||Women’s bodies should not be exploited.|
|Marco Gutiérrez Ruiz|
|Mari Mar Molpeceres Molpeceres|
|María Jesús Cuéllar|
|María Ángeles Estévez Corruchaga|
|Maria Antonia Martinez|
|María de la Paz Cobo Cobo|
|María del Mar Cabrerizo|
|María del Mar Daza Bonachela||https://www.academia.edu/38995298/LA_GESTACION_SUBROGADA_A_DEBATE|
|Maria Dolores Carmona Navarro|
|Maria Dolores Quesada Ruiz|
|María Dolores Soto|
|María Esther Fernandez Vieito|
|María José González|
|María José Moreno Sànchez|
|Maria jose Moruno Lopez|
|María Martín||Motherhood is priceless and is not an object of commerce.|
|María Soler Núñez|
|María Teresa López|
|Maria Teresa Rodriguez Garcia|
|Maria Victoria Oliver|
|Marie Gibson||Women and their wombs and the children birthed thereof are NOT property.|
|Marie Louise Almond|
|Marina Dueñas Fernández|
|Marta Garcia Gutierrez|
|Marta Morell Muñoz|
|Marta Pacheco Grano de Oro|
|Mary Hinsley||Women and children are not commodities to be bought and sold.|
|Mary Mc Dermott||There must be an international ban on surrogacy and cooperation between states to ensure that this practice is abolished.|
|Maureen Quinn||Women aren’t baby factories|
|Mercedes Carruana Martínez||No a los vientres de alquier|
|Meritxell Naranjo Mora|
|Michanne Henze||Surrogacy exploits the poor|
|Milagrosa Romero González|
|Mónica Núñez Bua|
|Montserrat Martínez Sánchez|
|Mrs Ruth Ouda||This proposed legislation makes women’s bodies a factory and the babies they produce a commodity – it cannot be ethical.|
|Ms J Connelly|
|Ms Jenifer Lavery|
|Ms Lee Fisher|
|Myriam Vivar Muñoz|
|Naomi Miles||These proposed changes to the law would have far-reaching unintended consequences.|
|Natalija Grujovic||Against all styles of surrogacy, especially the commercial one. Women’s bodies can’t be for rent.|
|Natividad Aguilera Lara|
|Noelia Campos Gan||NO A LA MAFIA REPRODUCTIVA!!!|
|Núria García Capellà|
|Nuria Sánchez Aparicio|
|Obdulia Menéndez Díaz|
|Olaia Martínez castro|
|Óscar López Antón|
|Paddy Manning||Surrogacy is the only human activity to combine eugenics, murder, prostitution, slavery, kidnapping and child abuse. No civilised person should countenance it.|
|Paige J Bramley|
|Patricia Garside||Women are not a collection of useful body parts. I don’t want to live in a country that will pass laws endorsing that idea of women.|
|Patricia Moriel McIntosh|
|Paula Fraga Arias|
|Pauline Kranendonk||Commercial surrogacy is not compatible with women’s and children’s rights. Women’s bodies are not factories: we are human beings. Children are not commodities. The entire idea of legalised surrogacy must be shelved as it violates the rights of the most vulnerable in these two already oppressed groups.|
|Pauline Wickes||It seems immoral to make a business from having babies|
|Petra Amengual Florit|
|Pilar Ponte Patiño|
|Pippa Plevin||So the rich can buy a baby, doesn’t matter about the woman involved it seems.|
|Rebeca Torres Mosquera|
|Rebecca Jesty||Children are a gift not a right.|
|REYNA CASTILLO MARTÍNEZ|
|Rocio Isabel Gonzalez-Peña|
|Rocio Lopez Millon|
|Rona Stewart||Surrogacy is dehumanising for women, and dangerous for the child involved too. Nobody has a right to a child, and using women as brood mares is a disgrace. It is also linked with the human trafficking going on in the world, another disgusting blight upon decency and humanity.|
|Rosa Maria Sánchez Jiménez|
|Rosa Quinteiro Rendo|
|Rosa Sanchez||Women’s bodies can’t be rented.|
|Ruth Thornett||Women’s bodies are not for sale, this is slavery|
|Ruth Tweedale||As a family law lecturer, women’s rights activist and lawyer, this is an absolute disgrace of a consultation, and completely ignores women, not least by objectifying us by referring to women as ‘surrogates’. When the law still discriminates against children with unmarried parents in that if the father isn’t named on the birth certificate that child has no legal father. Fathers quite rightly have no rights over a woman’s body including the foetus, and the courts cannot make a woman’s foetus a ward of court, because it infringes on women’s autonomy, yet surrogate parents will be given advanced rights to a child they’ve bought…. Women are not baby factories. Women are human and surrogacy is an act of violence against women. Thank you for your brilliant response – I shall have to write mine tomorrow.|
|S A KEENAN||Women and children are not commodities to be bought and sold.|
|Sabela Hernaez Sisto|
|Sabela Pérez Martín|
|Sandra McNeill||This consultation breaches consultation guidelines. It is invalid.|
|Sandra Smith||It is not anyone’s right to have a child, and women’s wombs should not be available to rent.|
|Sara Ann irons|
|Sara Reid||Child rights advocate and campaigner. Formerly Assistant Commissioner, Office of the Children’s Commissioner for Wales.|
|Sara Williams Longley|
|Sarah Fawcett-Howitt||Surrogacy is not ethical, no matter how you frame it! It is 100% exploitation!|
|Sarah Unwin||I am deeply concerned that UK would move away from legislation which centres the needs of the child & Safeguarding to one which is based on a US commercial model. The consultation has been poorly designed & publicised. There is a need for immediate scrutiny of the process & lobby groups involved.|
|Sarah Wilson||I don’t know any mothers who really understood the risks and consequences of pregnancy when they embarked on it – the toll it takes on your body, the lifelong damage it can cause. Fully informed consent is not possible because no-one talks about the many health issues that occur and, even when they do, young women never believe it could happen to them. For most of us, pregnancy and its after effects are worthwhile because the payoff is your own child. As a mother your life changes immeasurably and if an unexpected consequence is also chronic pain, damaged spine, incontinence, infertility at least we have our children to show for it. The idea that a young, childless woman could be encouraged or even coerced to put themselves through that just for money – to have to carry a child and then give it up, suffering the emotional and physical pain with nothing to show… It’s unconscionable. Parenthood is not a right. Children are not commodities to be bought and sold and neither should women’s bodies be seen as vessels men can pay to put their child in. Commercial surrogacy is not an acceptable proposal in a society where women can and will be exploited into it.|
|Sasha Rakoff||Unbelievable !|
|Sezgin Ismail||In one way or another, surrogacy is exploitative of the woman who is expected to bear a child and then give the child up to others|
|Sharon Campbell||This consultation does not take into account the risks for both mother and baby. It is very biased towards the rights of the ‘potential parents’ ‘rather than the mother who is taking all the risks. It is cumbersome and difficult for lay people to complete|
|Sian Jones||Wombs are not for sale or hire, women are not for sale.|
|Siobhan Murphy||A marketplace should not be erected upon (largely poor, vulnerable) women’s bodies involving the advertising & sale of reproductive capacity, the ‘renting’ of wombs, the sale of infants, & with scant regard to the health & wellbeing of mothers & children alike. It is concerning that medical authorities were not more involved in the consultation particularly with regard to the health of women who undergo multiple pregnancies plus the increased risks associated with donor egg usage, implantation, c-section, etc.
What happens if something goes wrong? What happens if a women changes her mind about surrogacy when the child is born? What about her rights & the rights of a child to familial origin &, genetic history?
|Stella Plinston||The UK consultation completely ignores all of the health implications for gestational mother, egg donor and child. It also fails to address the psychological implications for the child bought up with no material mother in existence.|
|Steph Benn||Women’s bodies are not work places and babies are not commodities|
|Sue Laughlin||I do not think that the commodification of women’s bodies for any reason is morally or legally acceptable|
|Susan Austin||Surrogacy is in essence an exploitative practise. The risks are high because there is still the potential to die during childbirth and the surrogate mother is more than likely to be in a position of economic disadvantage.|
|Susan Green||Commodifying the function of the uterus in a free market economy is a retrograde step. It’s about exploiting women’s bodies for the purpose of wealth extraction.|
|Susana Villafranca Gonzalez|
|Susannah Oldham||Stop exploiting/ commodifying and abusing girls and women.|
|T Kennedy, writer|
|Tany Alexander||I feel this needs to be re-thought to protect women.|
|Teresa Avalos Torres|
|Teresa Domínguez||We as women and our children, we deserve not to be exploited, we deserve same human rights as men, please, reconsider, and abolition is the only option.|
|Teresa izquierdo Fernández||Las mujeres no somos ciudadanas de segunda categoria. Acabemos con la violencia machista. Igualdad, Justicia, Libertad|
|Teresa Orozco Köhler|
|Tess Freeman||I have responded to the consultation and found the questions leading and biased towards a pre-determined outcome of introducing commercial surrogacy in the UK. I believe the process of consultation has contravened the law and needs to be thrown out and started from scratch headed by an individual with relevant related expertise in the field of human rights and/or surrogacy.|
|Tracey Haydon||Women’s bodies should not be put up for sale or rent.|
|Trixie Malixie||Women are not objects to be rented. This proposed law change is inhumane and dystopian.|
|Valentina Bouzada Salias|
|Valerie JB Minerva|
|Vicente J. Ibáñez-Valverde||La procreación NO es un derecho. Toda forma de subrogación vulnera los Derechos Humanos, tanto de los hijos como de la gestantes, SUS AUTÉNTICAS MADRES.|
|Victoria Díaz Auñón|
|Victoria Stevens||This will become an option for desperate women.|
|Violeta Bernardo Vazquez|
|Virginia Gómez Román|
|Yaiza Moreno García|
|Yemila Davalos Visa|
|Yolanda Martos Wensell|
|Yolanda Rodríguez Villegas|
[*] For example:
Download a PDF version of this letter
Share your story
We believe there are many women who are suffering in silence after having an unhappy, damaging or traumatic experience of ‘donating’ their eggs or being a ‘surrogate’ mother for the benefit of others. If you would like to share your story anonymously, we’d love to hear from you.