A tabloid investigation uncovered an illegal surrogacy business last week. Undercover Mirror journalists discovered a couple offering £10,000 in cash to fertile women willing to become surrogate mothers. It is also understood that the couple offer a commission to anyone who introduces them to potential surrogates. These activities are clearly illegal.
Under the 1985 Surrogacy Arrangements Act in the UK, it is illegal for a woman to profit from from being a surrogate - she is only allowed to receive money for legitimate expenses. It is also illegal for an organisation to profit from setting up surrogacy arrangements or to advertise for prospective surrogates. In order to get around this, the Sussex-based couple apparently advertised for second-hand children's clothes as a means of establishing contact with young mothers looking for an extra source of income.
A review of surrogacy laws, chaired by Professor Margaret Brazier which was published last year, recommended a further tightening of existing legislation. Kim Cotton, the UK's first surrogate mother, announced her decision to resign from the surrogacy charity she helped establish. It appears her decision was based on unforgotten pain at handing her first surrogate baby, Baby Cotton, to an anonymous couple and is also an angry response to recent government proposals to further regulate the practice of surrogacy. She announced her decision last week at the annual general meeting of COTS (Childlessness overcome through surrogacy).