The practice of surrogacy, whereby a woman accepts to undergo a pregnancy and give birth to a baby for someone else, is unfortunately gaining ground putting into jeopardy the fundamental rights of women and children. The ECPM expressed its serious concerns about this practice in a resolution presented during its last General Assembly, encouraging the introduction of legislation against surrogacy as well as the organisation of an international convention criminalising surrogacy.
We are glad to see that concerted efforts in the European Parliament (EP) and in the Council of Europe (CoE) have started to bear fruit. More and more Members of the European Parliament recognise the need to address this issue. In its last plenary session, the European Parliament has adopted the “Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2014 and the 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.
The Adoption of the Annual Report coincides with the discussion on surrogacy at the Parliamentary Assembly of the CoE (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 the Committee last November. However, the debate was postponed since serious questions were raised about the rapporteur’s (Petra De Sutter, Belgium) position on surrogacy. Mrs De Sutter openly confirms that she is involved in surrogacy practices in the Belgian Hospital in which she works. We are following the developments in PACE closely and urge MPs to carefully examine all aspects of this matter.
Finally, MEP Mrs Zaborska (EPP, Slovakia) has developed a Written Declaration “on the ban of surrogate motherhood to protect the inherent rights and dignity of all women and children”. The Declaration underlines the fact that surrogacy motherhood violates women's rights as well as the rights of the children. It also refers to various problems created by surrogacy such as the uncertainty about parental identity, calling on the European Commission to increase public awareness about surrogacy’s consequences and to work towards an EU wide ban on surrogacy. It is vital that this initiative is supported by as many MEPs as possible.
ECPM warmly welcomes the fact that there is a new momentum against surrogacy. We will continue our efforts as we perceive this debate as an important element in the struggle to protect Human Dignity in Europe and around the world.