Single parents will be given the right to bring up surrogate babies in a British Government move condemned last night as an assault on traditional family values.
Ministers are changing the law so that it is no longer only couples who can become the legal parents of children born to surrogate mothers.
In addition, The Mail on Sunday can reveal that the Department of Health is preparing the first detailed guidance on the controversial topic.
The Law Commission, an independent body that recommends changes to legislation, is also considering new recommendations on sweeping reform to Britain's strict law on surrogacy.
It says the current rules need to be reviewed because they have "struggled to adapt to changes in attitudes, a growing demand for surrogacy arrangements, and an increasing number of overseas surrogacy arrangements."
Cabinet Office Minister Baroness Chisholm of Owlpen told peers last month that the radical changes were needed because legislation dating back to the 1980s was struggling "to keep pace with 21st Century attitudes and lifestyles and that 'family structures are now much more diverse."
But last night family campaigners said that research shows children do much better growing up with two parents - and that any liberalisation of surrogacy laws risks treating babies as commodities.
Robert Flello MP, vice-chairman of the All Parliamentary Pro-Life Group, said: "This is about the human rights of the child.
"The right for the child to have two parents is being deliberately overlooked. A child has the right to be brought up in a loving family by its mother and father and that should be the starting point for Government and society."
Former High Court judge Sir Paul Coleridge, founder of think-tank The Marriage Foundation, said the planned change was yet another erosion "of the traditional model of the two-parent family."
He said: "I have no doubt at all that this change further undermines the well established principle that children do best when they are brought up in a stable home by both their biological parents."
Until now only couples have been able to become the legal parents of a child born to a surrogate mother. But last year, as revealed by this newspaper, a High Court judge ruled that the couples' restriction breaches the human rights of single people.
The landmark case was brought by a British man who wanted to obtain a Parental Order after paying £30,000 to an American woman to give birth to his child.
Now the Government has revealed that it is to amend the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 to remove this restriction because it is incompatible with the Human Rights Act.
We are struggling to keep pace with 21st Century attitudes... family structures are now much more diverse.
In future any single person will be able to apply for a Parental Order and so become the parent of a surrogate child. The change is being made through a 'remedial order', which the Government can use to amend laws at odds with the European Convention on Human Rights without requiring a vote. Dr Trevor Stammers, of the Family Education Trust which campaigns for family values, condemned the move as "an assault on the child and traditional family life."
He said: "Bringing up a child is an extremely difficult task and two parents are better than one."
Surrogacy laws were introduced in the UK in 1985 after Kim Cotton became Britain's first surrogate mother by being paid to carry a baby for an infertile Swedish couple.
In response to her case Parliament banned women from advertising themselves as surrogates or receiving payment other than 'reasonable expenses'.
There are now three not-for-profit agencies that match childless couples with willing surrogates.
As a result of the restrictions on payment there is a shortage of surrogate mothers in the UK, leading many people wanting a surrogate baby to travel to countries where commercial arrangements are legal.
The Law Commission will look at claims that the conditions on Parental Orders, needed to transfer legal parenthood from the birth mother to the intended parents, are 'unnecessarily restrictive'.
The Department of Health will also produce on an 'authoritative' guide to clarify the rules around surrogacy and emphasise the benefits of undertaking surrogacy in UK clinics rather than going abroad.