British couples are being allowed to ‘buy’ babies from surrogate mothers living abroad, despite the law being designed to prevent such arrangements.
Although surrogacy is legal in England and Wales couples are only permitted to provide the birth mother with “reasonable expenses” incurred during the pregnancy.
But Mr Justice Hedley, a High Court judge, has already given retrospective approval to commercial surrogacy on at least four occasions.
The revelation has prompted concerns that the practice could lead to children being regarded as commodities.
Andrea Williams, director of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “Surrogacy is all about adults’ desires, adults’ wants, adults’ needs, not about the needs of the child.
“We have to learn that as a society we can’t always get what we want. We can’t simply have whatever we want by whatever means even if science allows it.”
Mr Hedley’s comments came during an appearance on BBC Radio 4’s The World at One yesterday where he said it was in the interests of the child not to be left “parentless”.
The family law judge defended his actions, saying: “The statute does give power to the High Court retrospectively to authorise these payments and the reason we do so is not because we want to encourage commercial surrogacy but because of the impossible position which the child born as a result of the arrangement finds themselves in”.
He added: “Commercial surrogacy is a highly controversial matter ethically and at the end of the day by the time the case gets to me the best I can normally do is to focus on the welfare of the child.”
Mr Hedley added that if his judgments meant that Parliament’s will was being subverted, then that was a matter for politicians to address.