Page 1, 30th May 1997

30th May 1997
Page 1
Page 1, 30th May 1997 — set to outlaw surrogacy

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Locations: Edinburgh


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this week greeted with relief the prospect of sweeping new plans which could outlaw surrogate motherhood.

The plans, which are being considered by the Government, would make it a criminal offence for surrogates to receive any form of payment, including expenses or compensation.

The move by the newlyelected Government follows a series of cases which have highlighted loopholes in the law and left would-be parents heartbroken. As things stand, it is illegal for a woman to enter into a commercial contract to bear a child, but there have been a spate of allegations about some surrogates being paid large sums in "expenses".

It is known that ministers were alarmed following the story of Scarborough-based Karen Roche, who became pregnant after being inseminated with the sperm of a Dutchman, changed her mind about handling of the baby and later claimed that she had an abortion. Later, she confessed that she had lied about the termination and planned to bring up the baby as her own.

Brendan Gerard of The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children told the Herald: "We've always opposed surrogacy arrangements. The fact that the Karen Roche case happens to show that the law is far from perfect, but this sort of problem is in-herent in the surrogacy practice which compromises the dignity of the child and reduces women to walking wombs."

Kim Cotton, Britain's first surrogate mother and head of Childlessness Overcome Through Surrogacy, said: "If surrogacy is banned, it will just go underground. It is totally unreasonable to expect a surrogate mother to carry a child for nine months and put herself at the risk of childbirth for nothing.

"Karen is a one-off, she is sick. She is not tarred with the same brush as the rest of womenkind, she needs medical attention. We've never had a person changing their mind this late before now If people are paid £3,500 for IVF treatment in clinics you canot expect surrogate mothers to do it for free. We do try to screen potential surrogate mothers, but the screening process needs to be improved. This is difficult with no funding." Life trustee Nuala Scarisbrick said: "Surrogacy is never right whatever the motives. It abuses the whole purpose of motherhood, even if the child belongs genetically to someone else, surrogate mothers are bound to bond with the child. Again and again we've seen these arrangement go sadly sour because the mothers are human. Life has opposed surrogacy since the Warnock Report in 1985."

• LYNNE KELLY, 21, the Scottish woman who threatened to terminate her 14week pregnancy, has said that she may now keep her child, writes Joe Jenkins.

Her husband, James Kelly, from Inverkeithing, Fife, this week dropped his legal challenge to her decision to abort the child and will not pursue plans to petition the House of Lords. Since he began his challenge, Mr Kelly, 28, said that he has run out of money, lost his job and is to have his house repossessed by his bank. As he left the Court of Sessions in Edinburgh on Tuesday, Mr Kelly, close to tears, said: "It was something that had to be done. I regret nothing."

The decision follows the upholding of a temporary ban on his estranged wife by the court last week. The case has cost the taxpayer £100,000.

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