The debate continues in the UK…should the same maternity rights be awarded to women who become mothers through surrogacy as for women who become mothers naturally or through adoption? Well, I for one can’t think of a single reason why on earth not. Can you?
At the moment a mother through surrogacy is not entitled to any leave – paid or otherwise - until she has a parental order in place. Then she is only entitled to 13 weeks unpaid parental leave. And bear in mind that a parental order can take months to aquire….our twins were nearly a year old when we were granted ours! A mother who adopts or gives birth is entitled to 39 weeks maternity pay and 52 weeks leave – what an enormous and unjust discrepancy.
It’s simply a matter of outdated British law, which in the area of surrogacy desperately needs to be brought up to date. ITV News have highlighted two cases of British mothers through surrogacy who have been frustrated by the lack of equal rights to maternity leave. One, a teacher from Yorkshire, did not realise she had no maternity leave rights until she asked her employer for leave and was denied. A similar case is going throught the European Courts at the moment. I was left no choice but to resign my post rather than enter in to complicated and stressful negotiations and couldn’t agree more with another mother through surrogacy, Shoshanna Berkley, who points out that it seems unfair enough that you can’t carry your own child, then being denied the same maternity leave rights as all other women is ridiculous.
Now MP John Healy, former Shadow Health Secretary, is calling for a bill to bring maternity leave and pay rights in to line for mothers through surrogacy. I hope this gains momentum soon, as surrogate babies in the UK are growing in numbers and their mums deserve to access the same benefits as any other British mother.