There is no formal DoH policy on the surrogacy process, as surrogacy arrangements, together with the subject matter of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 and human genetics, are reserved matters outside the legislative competence of the Northern Ireland Assembly.
That said, this area interacts with provisions for adoption and parentage at common law and the parental order process by which legal parenthood is transferred from the surrogate to the Intended Parent(s).
The care of surrogates and babies falls, as normal, to HSC staff.
This NI guidance has been developed to support healthcare professionals, potential intended parents and surrogates to navigate the current legislative and policy framework.
The NI guidance is based on the DHSB guidance, but has been amended to reflect the specific position in NI.
There are several legal issues around surrogacy and the process is complicated, particularly as it is reasonably rare in NI and may therefore be unfamiliar to both families and healthcare staff.
The two guides seek to clarify the process by setting out, for example:
- when surrogacy is legal in the UK;
- the legal standing of surrogacy agreements;
- the rights of the surrogate and IP(s);
- how to transfer parental responsibility;
- the parental order process;
- financial implications; and