Friday, January 15, 2016

The Battle against Surrogacy continues in the New Year

Possible conflict of interest of the Rapporteur on Surrogacy in the Council of Europe; Majority of the European Parliament condemns the practice of Surrogacy 

This January will be a month of significant developments in the field of Surrogacy centred around the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). The Health and Social Affairs Committee of PACE is currently debating a report on “Human Rights and ethical issues related to surrogacy”

The report was scheduled to be discussed in committee last November. However, the debate was postponed since serious questions were raised by Committee Members about the possible conflict of interests which could involve the Rapporteur, Dr De Sutter, due to her professional activity as head of the Department for Reproductive Medicine at the University Hospital of Ghent. 

This matter will be discussed again in the next meeting of the Health and Social Affairs Committee that will take place during the next PACE Session in Strasbourg (25-29 January). My hope is that the PACE lawmakers will take into account the huge ethical implications of both commercial and non – commercial surrogacy in line with the recently adopted Human Rights report in the European Parliament where all forms of surrogacy is condemned. 

I personally believe that surrogacy is putting into jeopardy the fundamental rights of women and children. Additionally, Surrogacy as a practice subverts the safety and the dignity of the baby being ‘sold’. Moreover, many vulnerable women are being exploited by other women of a higher socioeconomic status. As a result, if the United Nations’ definition of Human Trafficking is applied, it can be directly linked to Human Trafficking. Therefore, the only acceptable kind of legislation that the PACE should actively pursue to introduce is a full ban on surrogacy. All other attempts to “regulate” or “control” surrogacy do not protect in the end the Human Dignity of women and children. PACE members should carefully consider this matter and protect the fundamental rights and the integrity of women and children who are the victims of this practice. A universal ban on surrogacy is also supported by the largest European feminist organizations who united themselves in the “feminists for the abolition of surrogacy”. 

Recently, the European Parliament took a clear stand in favour of human dignity. It adopted the Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2014 andthe European Union’s policy on the matter” tabled by MEP Cristian Dan Preda (EPP, Romania). The European Parliament entirely approved paragraph 114, condemning “the practice of surrogacy, which undermines the human dignity of the woman since her body and its reproductive functions are used as a commodity”. The European Parliament also “considers that the practice of gestational surrogacy which involves reproductive exploitation and use of the human body for financial or other gain, in particular in the case of vulnerable women in developing countries, shall be prohibited and treated as a matter of urgency in human rights instruments”. This is a big victory for Human Dignity and for the European Parliament despite the fact that there are still some problematic issues remaining in the text. Additionally, Eleven MEPs from different Political Groups have tabled a Written Declaration “on the ban of surrogate motherhood to protect the inherent rights and dignity of all women and children”.

The Council of Europe should adopt the same stance with the European Parliament and protect Human Dignity.



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