THE GOVERNMENT is to introduce a Bill before Easter to outlaw commercial surrogacy. Ministers believe that commercial surrogacy is in principle undesirable and that commercial agencies should be prevented frotn operating in this country, Mr Norman Fowler, Social Services Secretary told the House of Commons last week.
He said that the Bill would be followed by more comprehensive legislation, probably as part of a package on the issues raised in last year's Warnock report on embryology and human fertilisation.
The surrogacy question was highlighted after the birth of a girl in North London to surrogate mother, Mrs Kim Cotton. Mrs Cotton was reported to have received £6,500 and a Surrey surrogate motherhood agency is thought to have received substantially more.
Eventually, after a long legal wrangle, the High Court allowed the baby to go to the United States with her new parents.
A leading Vatican theologian recently condemned surrogacy, and described accepting payment for such services as
representing "the depths of selfcontempt ." Writing in the official Vatican newspaper L 'Osserva tore Romano, Mgr Carlo Caffarra, head of the Pontifical Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family, said that if a woman considers her ability to reproduce a "remunerable service" then she will consider her sexuality as merchandise. He stressed the Church's objection to all types of surrogacy.
In the same work in January the Catholic Bishops in this country backed a call by Baroness Warnock for urgent legislation.
Speaking in the Commons last Thursday, Mr Fowler said there had been increasing concern about the practice whereby a woman agreed to become pregnant with the intention of handing over the child to another couple. The Bill, he said, would prohibit commercial agencies from recruiting women as surrogate mothers and from making surrogate arrangements.
Mr Fowler was pressed by Sir Hugh Rossi, the Catholic MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, to introduce legislation to make all surrogacy illegal.