A recent article in the London Evening Standard reminded me why reproductive tourism is on the rise here in the U.S – many other countries have a much more restrictive approach to assisted reproduction. According to this article, there is a law in the U.K. that prevents mothers who use surrogates from taking maternity leave. The current guidelines only entitle women who undergo a successful pregnancy to paid leave - even if they are not the genetic parent. But people who use a surrogate have no right to paid or unpaid leave to look after their newborn child.
From my perspective this practice seems arcane at best and discriminatory at worst. Is this a result of flawed fiscal logic that because a woman doesn't physically give birth, she somehow doesn't require the rest and respite needed to care for a newborn baby? Or rather a result of a poorly cloaked agenda by those who disagree with surrogacy as a method of family building and who seek to punish intended parents with lost wages or the physical and emotional consequences of returning to work too early, should they decide to stay home.
I do not claim any in-depth knowledge of Britain's policy as it pertains to maternity leave for parents who adopt a baby but this article indicates that adoptive parents are granted a certain amount of maternity leave for this type of family building. And surely one can see the correlation between adoption and bringing home a baby via a surrogacy arrangement. It seems justifiable to allow all new parents the same protections regardless of their individual paths to parenthood. Physical aftermath of childbirth aside, both babies and parents must be given the time and space to grapple with the intensive learning curve of their new or expanded families and to find a certain degree of balance before returning to work.
Restrictions like this and a ban on surrogate compensation in U.K. and other countries have clearly triggered a rise in reproductive tourism - or couples going abroad to seek third-party reproduction services. The article notes that there is an opposition in Britain to surrogacy becoming a “commercial” transaction. I guess I don’t see how denying moms the opportunity to bond with their new babies prevents this.
All Things Conceivable is a blog dedicated to sharing the knowledge and expert opinions of the dedicated team at ConceiveAbilities, a Chicago-based egg donation and surrogacy agency.