Surrogacy contracts in UK and the Netherlands would enforce handing over of baby

All parties to a surrogacy agreement will be obliged to sign contracts which would enforce the handing over of the baby, even if the surrogate or the intending parents had changed their mind, if proposals in the UK and the Netherlands become law.

The introduction of “pre-conception agreements” would make a baby’s intended parents its legal parents at birth.

According to a survey in 2018 by Surrogacy UK, 84% of surrogates supported the introduction of pre-conception agreements. These provide assurance for the surrogate that she will not be left legally responsible for a child that she doesn’t consider hers. But the problem with such agreements, says Britta van Beers of Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, is that “legal certainty is bought at the cost of surrogate mothers”. Some fear that imposing any kind of legally enforceable contract on surrogates limits their rights of bodily autonomy, eg, if she wanted to keep the baby. In America, where surrogacy contracts are common, they detail the circumstances in which a woman can have an abortion. But whatever a woman agrees to in a contract, she may feel differently when she is actually pregnant and faces a conflict between her right to make decisions about her body and her contractual obligations.