One mum too few: maternal status in host surrogate motherhood arrangements

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Abstract

In a host surrogate motherhood arrangement, the surrogate agrees to be implanted with, and carry to term, an embryo created from the commissioning couple's gametes. When the surrogate child is born, it is the surrogate mother who, according to UK law, holds the legal status of mother. By contrast, the commissioning mother possesses no maternal status and she can only attain it once the surrogate agrees to the completion of the arrangement. One consequence of this is that, in the event that a host arrangement fails, the commissioning mother is left without maternal status. In this paper, I argue that this denial of maternal status misrepresents the commissioning mother's role in the host arrangement and her relationship with the surrogate child. Consequently, I suggest that commissioning mothers participating in host surrogacy arrangements ought to be granted the status of mother in the event that the arrangement fails.

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