Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Women Who Use Surrogates in Fight to Claim Maternity Leave

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Women Who Use Surrogates in Fight to Claim Maternity Leave

Article excerpt

Byline: Sophie Goodchild Health Editor

MINISTERS face a legal challenge over rules barring women who use a surrogate from receiving maternity pay. Campaigners claim the authorities are discriminating against "rent-awomb" mothers and have submitted evidence to ministers warning against the practice. They are calling for a change in the law.

The Government published new guidelines on surrogacy last month which were aimed at improving the rights of surrogacy patients, but did not tackle maternity pay.

The current guidelines only allow women who undergo a successful pregnancy to paid leave. They get time off 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.

Adoption leave is also unavailable, because it only applies where a child is newly placed by an adoption agency.

Fertility law firm Gamble and Ghevaert is writing to ministers demanding they tackle the problem.

Partner Natalie Gamble said surrogacy is still regarded as an "exotic rarity", which means statutory maternity leave does not apply.

Ms Gamble said: "The lack of right to maternity leave is tied up with the fact the surrogate mother is regarded as the mother.

"In any other circumstances you would get maternity leave. Women aren't going to need a whole year. What would make sense is a system where you have some sort of sharing arrangement [for maternity leave].

"We also need to take account of our modern human rights and anti-discrimination laws which do not allow unfair treatment of minority groups, however small they are."

More than 40 babies are born in Britain every year with the help of a surrogate.

The majority are to women who are unable to carry their own baby for medical reasons.

There is opposition in Britain to surrogacy becoming a "commercial" transaction. …

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