The European Parliament has repeatedly condemned surrogate motherhood.
- As a violation of human dignity in 2015;
- In the context of human trafficking, as a source of human rights violations in 2017;
- In 2021, from a commercial perspective and at the global level, due to the risks of exploitation and trafficking in human beings, its impact on the health of surrogate mothers and the breach of equality between men and women;
- In 2021, as sexual exploitation, on the same level as forced marriages, prostitution and pornography;
- In 2022, it reiterates all its condemnations in the context of the war in Ukraine.
Already in 2015, the European Union clearly condemned surrogacy in its annual report “on human rights and democracy in the world and on the European Union’s policy on the matter”. The European Parliament specified in paragraph 115 that:
“[It]Condemns the practice of surrogacy, which undermines the human dignity of the woman since her body and its reproductive functions are used as a commodity; 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”.
In the same Annual Report for 2017, the European Parliament highlights, in paragraph 48, the violation of human rights related to surrogacy, in the context of human trafficking.
[It] “Deplores the persistence of trafficking in human beings; underlines the fact that trafficking in human beings commodifies people and constitutes one of the worst forms of human rights violations; emphasises, in this respect, the importance of a consistent approach to the internal and external dimensions of the EU’s policies for combating trafficking in human beings at all levels; calls for the EU and its Member States to increase cooperation with third countries in order to investigate all stages of trafficking in human beings, including all forms of exploitation of persons, especially women and children, such as trafficking in organs, forced labour and sexual exploitation, and to cooperate with the UN and civil society in the field; calls for clear principles and legal instruments addressing human rights abuses related to surrogacy; expresses its profound concern at the extreme vulnerability of migrants and refugees, especially women and children, to exploitation, smuggling and trafficking in human beings, including in migration hotspots; underlines the need to promote victim-centred policies, prevent and reduce this type of crime, and crack down on profits stemming from trafficking in human beings;”
In 2021, the European Parliament condemned the practice under Article 60, focusing on commercial surrogacy, which accounts for the bulk of the practice worldwide, and underlined the consequences of surrogacy for the health of surrogate mothers and its impact on equality between men and women.
[It] “Condemns the commercial practice of surrogacy, a global phenomenon that exposes women worldwide to exploitation and human trafficking while targeting financially and socially vulnerable women in particular; highlights its severe impact on women, women’s rights, women’s health and gender equality, and underlines its cross-border implications; calls for a European legal framework to address the negative consequences of commercial surrogacy”.
In the same year 2021, the EU Strategy for Gender Equality, proposed by the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM), links surrogate motherhood to forms of sexual exploitation in its article 32.
[The European Parliament ] “Urges the Commission to present the long-awaited EU strategy on the eradication of trafficking in human beings and underlines the need for a clear recognition of the gendered nature of human trafficking and sexual exploitation, where women and girls are the most affected; acknowledges that sexual exploitation for surrogacy and reproductive purposes or purposes such as forced marriages, prostitution and pornography is unacceptable and a violation of human dignity and human rights; requests, therefore, that the strategy look closely at the situation of women in prostitution, with a special focus on the link between prostitution and the trafficking of women and minors, in the EU and worldwide, and the emerging use of the internet for purposes of exploitation; highlights the important role and work of the EU-Anti-Trafficking Coordinator and urges the Commission to appoint the new Coordinator without further delay, to closely monitor the implementation of the Anti-Trafficking Directive by the Member States; insists on the importance of including measures and strategies to reduce demand”.
The European Parliament in its report on the impact of the war on Ukraine on women reiterates in articles 12, 13 and 14 all its previous condemnations of surrogacy..
Article 12 [It] “Stresses that human trafficking for sexual exploitation and other purposes remains one of the biggest risks for women and children fleeing Ukraine who are in a particularly vulnerable situation; notes that even before the war, Ukrainian women were among the most common victims of human trafficking to the EU; urges the Member States to guarantee safety and freedom from sexual exploitation for refugee women and girls, including by providing safe and coordinated transportation between Member States; urges the Member States and the EU to swiftly identify and prosecute the trafficking networks profiting from the sexual exploitation of refugee women and girls; reiterates that prostitution feeds the trafficking of vulnerable women; encourages the EU to support Ukraine in investing in anti-trafficking awareness raising and prevention measures on the Ukrainian side, for example by disseminating information about these risks; stresses that surrogate mothers are in a situation of particular vulnerability and precariousness; strongly insists that the primary interest at stake is the life of the women and that they should not be prevented from leaving Ukraine if they wish to do so; recalls that sexual exploitation for surrogacy and reproduction is unacceptable and a violation of human dignity and human rights”.
Article 13. [It] “Condemns the practice of surrogacy, which can expose women around the world to exploitation, in particular those who are poorer and are in situations of vulnerability, such as in the context of war; asks the EU and its Member States to pay particular attention to the protection of surrogate mothers during pregnancy, childbirth and puerperium and to respect all of their rights, as well as those of the new-borns”.
Article 14 . [It] “Underlines the serious impact of surrogacy on women, their rights and their health, the negative consequences for gender equality and the challenges stemming from the cross-border implications of this practice, as has been the case for the women and children affected by the war against Ukraine; asks the EU and its Member States to investigate the dimensions of this industry, the socio-economic context and the situation of pregnant women, as well as the consequences for their physical and mental health and for the well-being of babies; calls for the introduction of binding measures to address surrogacy, protecting women’s and newborns’ rights”.