IFLG - U.K. Ends Ban on Egg Sperm Export for Surrogacy in U.S - Rich Vaughn.

U.K. Ends Ban on Egg, Sperm Export for Surrogacy in U.S.

The path to parenthood just got a little smoother for U.K. intended parents planning surrogacy in the United States: The U.K. agency regulating assisted reproduction has agreed to overturn a rule that essentially prevented U.K. residents from shipping their eggs, sperm or embryos to the U.S. for surrogacy.

As our colleague, U.K. assisted reproductive technology (ART) attorney Natalie Gamble, reported recently, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), which regulates fertility services in the U.K., previously interpreted the law to forbid U.K. fertility clinics from exporting intended parents’ genetic materials unless they could ascertain that the material would not be used in so-called “commercial” surrogacy in the U.S. or another country.

Until recently, U.K. intended parents were able to work around this prohibitive rule by simply traveling to the U.S. for fertility treatments such as egg or sperm donation and in vitro fertilization.

U.K. Intended Parents Face COVID-19 Travel Ban


As Gamble wrote, “Of course, since February, the Presidential travel ban has prevented intended parents from travelling in person, and so the HFEA's stance on export has effectively blocked U.S. surrogacy for many U.K. intended parents.” (See our latest COVID-19 travel update for international intended parents.)

Gamble’s firm, NGA Law, and surrogacy agency Brilliant Beginnings successfully challenged the HFEA on its interpretation of U.K. law. She writes:

“The Chief Executive of the HFEA Peter Thompson has now confirmed to us in writing that the HFEA accepts that its previous interpretation of the law was wrong. It plans to update its guidance and confirm explicitly that U.K. fertility clinics can export for international surrogacy, irrespective of any commercial element. Going forwards, U.K. fertility clinics will be able arrange export of sperm, eggs or embryos form the U.K. to the U.S. just by liaising with the overseas clinic to ensure it meets the necessary safety standards, etcetera; they no longer need to ask about the detail of surrogacy plans or payments to surrogates and agencies.”

Gamble said the rule change is intended to be immediate, although updates to the written guidelines may take some time.

Restrictive Laws Result in U.K. Surrogate Shortage


As we wrote last year, under existing laws, enacted in the mid-1980s, only “altruistic” or uncompensated surrogacy is legal in the U.K.—although the guidelines for what is considered allowable compensation for expenses are unclear—and surrogacy agreements are not enforceable in court. In addition, a surrogate who gives birth in the U.K., and her spouse, if applicable—not the intended parents—are the legal parents of the baby. Intended parents must establish parentage through a court procedure, which cannot be undertaken until the baby is six weeks old and can take as long as a year to finalize.

U.K. law also prohibits surrogacy agencies from advertising and from making a profit.

The onerous legal restrictions have had a chilling effect on surrogacy in the U.K. With only a handful of non-profit agencies to facilitate surrogacies, limited compensation and unenforceability of surrogacy agreements, there are not enough U.K. surrogates to meet demand.

That shortage and the legal hurdles to establishing parentage have resulted in hundreds of U.K. intended parents seeking surrogacy in other countries. The United States, with its generally favorable surrogacy laws, generous supply of surrogates, leading-edge reproductive healthcare services, and clear parental establishment procedures, has become a popular destination for U.K. intended parents.

Although there are no definite figures on the number of U.K. residents who have had babies via surrogacy in the U.S., a 2018 study of 200 intended parents, co-authored by Gamble, found that nearly all (97 percent) of those choosing surrogacy in the U.S. did so “to access a better legal framework, which includes being recognised as the legal parents of the child from birth.”

U.K. Considers  Outdated Fertility Law Reform


The U.K. appears to be on a path to reform its outdated surrogacy and assisted reproduction laws. As we reported, in June 2019, the U.K. Law Commission, which reviews outdated laws, has made initial recommendations, including establishing intended parents as legal parents from birth; regulation of surrogacy arrangements and best practices; and U.K. recognition of international surrogacy arrangements, on a country-by-country basis.

Today, with a COVID-19 vaccine finally on the horizon, our hopes are high that travel between the U.K. and the U.S. will return to normal in the coming months. The news of this latest rule change will do so much to ease the burden of intended parents planning surrogacy in the U.S. during the global pandemic. Thanks to the dedication and hard work of Natalie Gamble and other advocates, we are optimistic that much-needed reforms to U.K. surrogacy law will follow soon.



Richard Vaughn

Attorney Rich Vaughn is founder and principal of International Fertility Law Group, one of the world’s largest and best-known law firms focused exclusively on assisted reproductive technology, or ART, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), surrogacy, sperm donation or egg donation. Rich is co-author of the book “Developing A Successful Assisted Reproduction Technology Law Practice,” American Bar Association Publishing, 2017.

Peiya Wang
Paralegal (律师助理)

Peiya Wang joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2015, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases and provides translation services for many of IFLG’s international clients. Peiya moved to the United States in 2012 to attend Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, receiving a Master of Science degree in Global Studies and International Affairs in 2014. Peiya moved to Los Angeles in 2015, received her paralegal certification from UCLA Extension, and obtained her second Master of Science degree in Legal Studies from Loyola Law School. Peiya relocated back to her hometown, Beijing, China in 2019 and works from IFLG’s Beijing office. When away from the office, Peiya is a dragon boat paddler and a ballroom dancer, where she favors Rumbas and Cha-chas. She is fluent in Mandarin and English.

Luis Sosa

Luis R. Sosa joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2016, where he enjoys pursuing his passion for family and reproductive law. While working toward his bachelor’s degree at Florida International University which he received in 2013, Luis worked as a paralegal and legal assistant for family law litigation firms in Miami and Washington, D.C. As a paralegal and case manager for IFLG, Luis, who is bilingual in English and Spanish, manages surrogacy, egg donation and other reproductive law cases. Luis has worked for IFLG in both Los Angeles as well as San Francisco, and is currently based in Dallas, Texas. In addition to spending time with husband Randy and dog Marty, Luis enjoys being outdoors and appreciating the arts.

Toni Hughes

After receiving her B.S. in Business Management, Toni joined IFLG to pursue her dream of working in the legal field. As a Paralegal with over 10 years of experience in the assisted reproduction technology field, Toni is our Managing Paralegal, responsible for training and managing our paralegal staff. From drafting legal documents to assisting our clients with post-birth matters, Toni embraces the challenge of learning something new in this field each day. Besides spending time with her son, Jordan, Toni enjoys exploring new things, cooking, spending time with family and friends, and serving as a Youth Advisor for “Next Generation.”


Kim has over 30 years of experience in the legal field and has worked exclusively in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 1999. Kim is a senior case manager responsible for managing parental establishment cases and interacting with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorneys across the country. With three children of her own, Kim understands the importance of family and finds working in this area of law a rewarding experience.

Rich Vaughn

Attorney Rich Vaughn combined his personal passion as a father of twin boys born via assisted reproductive technology (ART) with more than 20 years of experience in business and technology law to build International Fertility Law Group. Today IFLG is one of the most successful and best-known law firms in the world focused exclusively on fertility law, helping thousands of intended parents through empathetic listening, compassionate guidance, and unmatched legal expertise. As an advocate for reproductive freedom, Rich also contributes his knowledge and time to improving the understanding and practice of ART law, most recently as a founder of and speaker at the first Cambridge University International Surrogacy Symposium held in June 2019, as immediate past chair of the American Bar Association ART Committee, and as a popular presenter to law schools, faculty and advocacy organizations all over the world.

Elizabeth Tamayo

Elizabeth received her Bachelors of Science degree in Criminal Justice from California State University of Los Angeles. Shortly after graduating, she continued her education at the University of California, Los Angeles where she obtained her Paralegal certificate. Elizabeth is fluent in Spanish and has been in the legal field since 2009. She is excited to be a part of the IFLG Team helping families realize their dreams.

Sunny Chien

Sunny joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2017, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s international clients. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from California State University of Los Angeles, where she graduated cum laude. Sunny is bilingual in English and Mandarin and has extensive experience as a legal assistant and paralegal at Los Angeles-area law firms. She is excited to be part of the IFLG team. In her spare time, Sunny enjoys spending time with her family and their dog, going to the beach, cooking, and being outdoors.

Los Angeles

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New York

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New York, NY 10017

Phone:  +1 844 400 2016

Email:  info@iflg.net

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Molly O'Brien

Fertility law attorney Molly O’Brien began working in the field of assisted reproduction technology (ART) in 2005, at an egg donation agency and a surrogacy agency where she became familiar with all aspects of in-vitro fertilization, egg donation and the financial aspects of surrogacy. Since becoming an attorney in 2011, Molly has drafted and negotiated surrogacy, egg donation, sperm donation embryo donation agreements for hundreds of her clients all over the world.

Phoebe Sadler

Fertility law attorney Phoebe Sadler has a background in family law and has been practicing exclusively in the area of assisted reproduction technology (ART) law since 2018.

Rubina Aslanyan

Rubina has an extensive background in the legal field as a paralegal in Family Law and has worked in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 2012. Her area of focus is in managing and assisting clients with surrogacy, egg donation, and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s domestic and international clients. During her spare time, Rubina enjoys spending time with her family and dog Bella, traveling and cooking.

Alexander Espinoza
Legal Assistant

Alexander joined IFLG as a legal assistant in 2019, where he manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases. Alex is bilingual in English and Spanish and has been in the legal field for 23 years. Alex is excited to join the IFLG team and pursuing his will to help others in the reproductive law process. In his spare time he loves spending time with his family and friends, being outdoors, road trips, loves music and dancing.

Cara Stecker
Senior Paralegal

After receiving her paralegal certificate in 2005, Cara began working in assisted reproductive law. During the fifteen years Cara has worked in this field, she has gained a wide range of experience and knowledge that she uses to help better assist clients and those involved in the assisted reproductive journey. Cara’s primary roles involve managing parental establishment matters and coordination with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorney network, drafting contracts and parental establishment court documents and providing support to other team members. Cara finds great joy in being a small part of a team of caring people who help others achieve their dream of having a family. In her spare time, Cara enjoys spending time with her husband and three children, watching her children play the sports they love, and she enjoys, running, cycling and exploring the outdoors in the sun.

Stephanie Kimble

Stephanie received her BS in History and Political Thought from Concordia University Irvine in 2015 and her Paralegal Certificate from University of San Diego later that same year. She has been working as a Paralegal since 2016 in Family and Reproductive Law. She is excited to be part of International Fertility Law Group working on managing Surrogacy, Egg donation and Parental Establishment Cases.

Trish Pittman
Assistant Financial Coordinator

With more than 20 years of experience in the field of accounting, Trish joined the IFLG team in 2019 as Assistant Financial Coordinator. Her client-facing focus at IFLG is to assist with all client trust accounting. Trish is the mother of two daughters and enjoys spending time teaching and learning new things from them. In her free time, she loves long walks in the park and reading suspense and mystery novels.

Katie Deaquino
Senior Paralegal

Katie is a Senior Paralegal with IFLG and has dedicated over sixteen years to the areas of surrogacy and reproductive law. She received her Paralegal Certificate from Coastline Community College and has worked with some of the top law firms in the assisted reproduction community. Katie is also a commissioned Notary Public. With IFLG, Katie manages Surrogacy, Egg Donation, and Parental Establishment cases and provides support to other IFLG team members. Katie truly enjoys helping others build their families through assisted reproduction and is thankful she has had the rewarding experience of assisting IFLG clients. Katie often spends her free time with her Husband, four young children and her bulldog “Bella”.

Elsa Jimenez
Legal Assistant

Elsa joined IFLG as a Legal Assistant in 2019, bringing more than 35 years of experience working in the legal profession (concentrating in tort and litigation matters). At IFLG she assists surrogates with their surrogacy and parental matters. The oldest of five siblings, born and raised in East Los Angeles to Mexican immigrant parents, Elsa loves “seeing the beauty of families forming” through assisted reproductive technology. She and her husband Carlos have four children and one grandson. Elsa enjoys jazz and ’80s music, being outdoors in nature, collecting teacups and tea pots, and spending time with her close-knit family.