Couples struggling with infertility, parents wishing to start their family later in life, single would-be parents and same-sex couples are all increasingly turning to science to help them to start a family. Scientific research is still in its very early stages, but as the science continues to evolve, we expect that over time there will be an increase of non-traditional families exploring alternative conception methods for a myriad of personal reasons.
In Vitro Fertlisation, (IVF), sometimes known as a "test tube baby", enables mothers who cannot conceive naturally to become pregnant. IVF can be a viable option for many couples who wish to expand their family. For example, in a same-sex female relationship, it can (rather beautifully) enable one female party to carry their partner's egg. It also offers other couples or individuals the ability to become pregnant and have a child with the help of donor eggs or sperm.
Surrogacy, as used by Elon Musk to welcome their first daughter, is another option for those who wish to have children, but are unable to do for a variety of reasons.
As the science evolves, it is important that the law evolves with it and that, regardless of the circumstances of their birth, the child is protected throughout as well as being brought up in a loving home. In the words of the Children Act 1989, "the welfare of the child is paramount".
Nevertheless, having a child - whether naturally or by any scientifically-assisted method - has important legal consequences and responsibilities. It is very important, particularly when scientific assistance (e.g. IVF) is used, that the individual and/or couple hoping for a child is aware of these legal consequences and responsibilities. Often, assistance can cross borders, therefore in some cases the law in each jurisdiction will need to be considered.
Whether surrogacy and IVF is the future for reproduction is yet to be known, however with scientific developments such as an artificial womb being less than ten years away*, coupled with parents choosing to become parents at a later age and access to fertility for alternative family structures being easier to access, there may well be a significant increase over the next decade.
At Ince, our Family experts can advise across all aspects of becoming a parent. To learn more about our surrogacy services, click here.
* Source: BBC
Advances in science and technology, coupled with modern medicine, has impacted the way in which we look at life. Reproduction is not an exception.