Surrogacy "violates human dignity" says reportThursday, April 26th, 2012
Surrogacy is a form of commodification of human beings, like human trafficking or the trade in human organs, according to a document to be presented to the Council of Europe today.
The document, Surrogate Motherhood: A Violation of Human Rights, is published by the European Centre for Law and Justice, which is a Europe-wide group dedicated to promoting human rights. It says that surrogacy, “violates the dignity of both the surrogate mother and the child.”
The document comes after a recent ruling by the European Court of Human Rights, which found that Austria's ban on surrogacy was not in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.
It points out that, after a child is conceived through surrogacy, it can have, “up to six adults claiming parents' rights over him or her: the genetic mother (egg donor), the gestational mother (surrogate), the commissioning mother; the genetic father (sperm donor), the husband of the gestational mother (presumption of paternity) and the commissioning father.”
“Such manipulations are contrary to the genetic truth, which is paradoxically more and more sought, especially in fatherhood determination,” it says. Surrogacy, the document also states, violates, “the child's right to know his or her origin and identity, as guaranteed in Article 7 of the (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child.”
According to the report, surrogacy, “is presented as a method of medically assisted reproduction among others, a treatment for infertility.” Surrogacy, “is often depicted as a generous altruistic action meant to help couples who cannot naturally have children, to offer them the joy of parenting.” However, it says, the reality of surrogacy, “is far from this sugar-coated picture.”
Even in countries where commercial surrogacy is banned, “women may be coerced into accepting surrogacy, e.g. through emotional pressure, threats or promises concerning their jobs etc.” Commissioning parents, it points out, “usually are older, richer and better educated than surrogate mothers,” which increases the risk of exploitation.
The paper will be launched on Thursday in Strasbourg at conference to discuss the issue of surrogacy motherhood and the reasons for opposing it. The conference takes place in the context of attempts at Council of Europe level to legalise surrogate motherhood in Europe.
The Committee of Ministers of the Council is currently examining a draft Recommendation on the rights and legal status of children and parental responsibilities that contains provisions recognising the legitimacy of surrogacy motherhood.
Two cases are currently pending before the European Court of Human Rights challenging the French ban on this practice (cases of Mennesson v. France no 65192/11 and Labesse v. France no 65941/11).
The conference is organised by the ECLJ, in collaboration with Care for Europe, a Christian NGO and the FAFCE, and with the support of Luca Volontè, President of the European People's Party group. The author of the report, Dr Claire de La Hougue, will be the main speaker at the conference.
by Tom O'Gorman