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Govt to publish command paper on surrogacy

File photo dated 11/07/14 of a newborn baby's feet. Labour's shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth has said that new parents should receive extra help from a health visitor to keep up breastfeeding rates. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday April 19, 2018. According to the party an additional visit from a health visitor would also help spot any postnatal maternal health problems. See PA story HEALTH Labour. Photo credit should read: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

The Gibraltar Government will today publish a Command Paper on a draft Surrogacy Bill 2019, in a move that will make commercial surrogacy arrangements illegal.

In doing so the Government has acknowledged that surrogacy is already a reality in Gibraltar and said it considers that there needs to be a proper legal framework in place to govern these arrangements.

The draft Bill provides the basis for those unable to conceive to engage in a non-commercial, altruistic surrogacy arrangement and seek legal parentage of the children by applying for a Parental Order.

Such an application will be subject to the legal safeguards in place for the gestational mother.

The Government said it is confident that by mirroring the approach taken in the United Kingdom, in this area, Gibraltar is modernising the legal position of the family unit and removing the potential risks that may arise in the absence of effective surrogacy legislation in Gibraltar.

The underlying regime of the draft Bill is in three parts.

Firstly, the Bill establishes a prohibition on commercial surrogacy arrangements, which will become a criminal offence.

Secondly, the Bill sets out the position of all the parties involved in a non-commercial arrangement. The default position in law will be that the child born is the child of the surrogate mother.

Thirdly, the Bill details the procedure to transfer full legal parentage to the commissioning parents.

The draft legislation further incorporates the very recent changes to the law in the United Kingdom, which now permits a single individual to apply for a Parental Order, whereas, previously, this was limited to two joint intended parents only.

The Government said it is attuned to the potential complexities and difficulties that may arise when participating in a surrogacy arrangement for surrogates and the intended parents.

As a result, the Government will supplement this legislation with a clear and simple guidance document to ensure those who will benefit from the change in law, understand the risks and processes involved.

Commenting on the new Bill, the Minister for Health, Care and Justice Neil Costa said: “It pleases me greatly to say that the draft Bill has today been published in a Command Paper inviting comments.”

“It is promising to see that, in this particular area, Gibraltar will broadly follow the United Kingdom’s position on surrogacy arrangements and parental orders, providing an alternative in Gibraltar to those who are unable to conceive.”

“This will enable children born to surrogate mothers to be legally recognised as the children of those intended parents who have sought assisted reproduction, with legal protections that ensure clarity and fairness to the persons involved.”

“For those couples who have been unable to conceive, and would make loving and caring parents, these unique arrangements will give them a further opportunity to start a family. This legislation also allows single, loving individuals a further prospect to start a family.”

“Through this Bill, I believe that the Government has demonstrated its steadfast commitment to the needs of the modern family in Gibraltar which, today, comes in myriad different forms. As a result, it was important to modernise our legal framework in this area.”

Pic by Andrew Matthews/PA Wire