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Surrogacy custody case must go ahead in US

Dr Kirsty Horsey

Progress Educational Trust

17 April 2002

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[BioNews, London] A UK High Court judge ruled last week, reversing an earlier decision, that a British woman who entered a surrogacy arrangement and bore twins intended to be raised by an American couple must go back to the US to pursue her custody battle.

In February, the woman, who has no biological connection to the twins, won the first stage in her legal battle when it was ruled that the children could stay with her in the UK. Her arrangement with the Californian couple who commissioned her to act as surrogate broke down when they found out she was carrying twins and she refused to consider a selective reduction. She then changed her mind about the surrogacy arrangement and decided to keep the children.

Initially, the American couple applied to the UK court for a declaration that the case was one of international abduction. They argued that as the biological father was habitually resident in California, the twins also were. In February, Mr Justice Hedley had not been convinced by that argument and ruled that under British law, the surrogate was the mother and the only person who had parental responsibility.

Last week, the judge said that other legal provisions gave him the discretion to return the children to California for their future to be decided in courts there. He described the case as 'Californian through and through' and said that he believed the Californian courts could be trusted to decide the issue in the best interests of the children, although he expressed concern that the British woman would not be recognised as the mother and would have little legal protection. Lawyers representing the British woman said she will challenge the new ruling in the Court of Appeal.

© Copyright Progress Educational Trust

Reproduced with permission from BioNews, an email and online sources of news, information and comment on assisted reproduction and genetics.

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Date Added: 17 April 2002   Date Updated: 12 September 2004
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