The War on Women is alive and well in the UK as well as the US.
Jane Kassim, a teaching assistant from Rotherham, England, whose twin babies were carried by her cousin, has been told she is not entitled to maternity pay because her children were born through surrogacy.
Kassim learned at age 15 that she would never be able to become pregnant because she was born without a womb. Her cousin Amy Bellamy volunteered to help last year after finding out that Kassim, now 30, and her husband Adis wanted to become parents. Bellamy agreed to be their surrogate, The Telegraph reports.
Bellamy gave birth to Kassim’s girls, Isla Jane and Ivy May, through caesarean section last month. And that’s when Kassim learned that she was not entitled to maternity or statutory pay like normal mothers and even those who adopt.
According to the Telegraph, Kassim has only been offered 13 weeks of unpaid leave -– most mothers in the U.K. are entitled to 52 weeks (one whole year). “Under current law people like me don’t have the maternity rights that mothers who give birth themselves or women who adopt are entitled to,” she told the paper.
Why Kassim Isn’t Entitled To The Same Rights As Other New Mothers
The twins were conceived through IVF treatment using Kassim’s fertilized eggs, but her Member of Parliament John Healey has stepped in to close the ‘legal loophole’ which does not allow her maternity rights.
Healey has taken on Kassim’s case and is trying to find a “legal loophole” for all mothers who use surrogates. Healey introduced a new bill under the “Ten Minute Rule” (a process used that enables members to introduce legislation in Parliament). The bill would make leave, pay and allowance arrangements for parents of children born to surrogate mothers equal to those available to parents whose children are born to them.
Kassim said she was ‘stunned’ when she learned she did not have the same maternity rights as normal mothers. “When I enquired I was told I wasn’t entitled to any kind of maternity leave or pay apart from 13 weeks parental leave which would be unpaid,” she told The Daily Mail.
All New Mothers Should Be Entitled To Maternity Leave
Surrogate births may be still relatively uncommon in Britain, but the number is growing rapidly as society changes and science advances. I can attest to this personally as the proud great-aunt of two beautiful girls, both born through surrogacy. To deny these mothers their maternity leave, something which Britain is justly proud of, is wrong.
Jane Kassim is entitled to the same rights as any other new mother. The law needs to change so that mothers like her who have their children born through surrogates have the same rights as any other mothers who give birth themselves or indeed who adopt children.
Photo Credit: istock
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