Page last updated at 17:32 GMT, Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Judge's surrogacy safeguards call

Foetus generic
Surrogacy agencies are not regulated

A High Court judge has spoken of his concern over the lack of regulation of surrogate pregnancy agencies.

Mr Justice McFarlane told BBC File On 4 he had written to the government highlighting the issue after making a judgement in a surrogacy case.

He said the government should examine whether these surrogacy agencies needed regulation.

The Department of Health said it is consulting on whether surrogacy should be regulated by an official watchdog.

A small number of non-profit making surrogacy agencies, often operate on a voluntary basis to provide help and advice to surrogate mothers and couples seeking a surrogate pregnancy.

Mr Justice McFarlane, told the BBC: "I did express concern that these agencies, well meaning though they undoubtedly are, were not audited or regulated in any way as to the quality of advice that they gave to couples approaching them for their service."

He added: " I was sufficiently concerned to send a copy of the judgement to the government department in the hope that they could look more carefully at the whole range of these cases and decide whether there was a need for some form of modest regulation or checking of the competence and the level of functioning of the service that is provided."

A Department of Health statement said that it would be consulting different agencies about bringing surrogacy under the remit of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology but no date had been set for the consultation.

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