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Legislation changes will allow single parents to have a child through surrogacy

This week, the house of Parliament approved a change to the law to allow for single parents to apply for parental orders in surrogacy arrangements. Previously, only couples were eligible to apply for parental orders, which transfers the legal parenthood from the surrogate to the intended parent/s.

“The Court stated that Section 54 of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 was incompatible in that it only allowed couples to apply for a parental order, which transfers legal parenthood after a surrogacy arrangement. The order will amend the Act to allow for a sole applicant for a parental order, and makes provisions consequential on this change.”

To explain the changes and what they mean going forward, Sarah Williams, a barrister who specialises in surrogacy law at Vardags, has provided us with some further insight.


At long last, the law has now been changed to allow single parents through surrogacy to apply for parental orders. This is fantastic news.

Parental orders are orders that transfer full legal parenthood from the legal parents at the child’s birth to the intended parents. They extinguish the rights of the surrogate completely. Until now only couples have been allowed to apply for a parental order meaning that single parents had less legal standing than the surrogate in the eyes of the law.

There has been this ridiculous situation where single persons were eligible to adopt a child and enjoy the full parental rights that follow but single parents through surrogacy were unable to even apply for a parental order for their own biological child.

This change in the law has come about following a case where a single applicant applied for a parental order arguing that the relevant section 54 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 could be “read down” under section 3(1) of the Human Rights Act to enable the outcome – but this was refused by the Judge.

The applicant then brought a challenge under the Human Rights Act on the grounds that S.54 HEFA breached Articles 8 (right to respect for private and family life) and 14 (which prohibits discrimination) of the European Convention of Human Rights and the Judge declared that it was incompatible. To address this incompatibility a new section 54A has been added to HEFA through a remedial order.

For more information on the changes to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 (Remedial) Order 2018, visit the Legislation website.

Written by QWEERIST editor

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