June-July 2020 – Surrogacy around the world

News on surrogacy is very contrasted in this pandemic time

Regulatory pressure is still there. Bills or civil code reforms are under consideration in Argentina, Mexico and Colombia. In the Netherlands, there is an attempt to weaken the current rules governing surrogacy, while in Canada, the legislator is considering turning to commercial surrogacy.

New scandals involving the sale of children are emerging in Russia and India.

On the other hand, Lithuania confirms its abolitionist position by also wishes to act at a supranational level, particularly towards the European Council.

In Spain, the Parliament of the Autonomous Community of the Balearic Islands has officially condemned surrogacy

Resistance is there, in Austria to retain the ban on surrogacy, in Mexico with a new National Coalition against the use of surrogacy, and in Spain with two initiatives, one towards the European Parliament, the other with local institutions in Navarre.

ICASM, International Coalition for the Abolition of Surrogacy, has increased its outreach to promote the need to come together and act at the transnational level for the universal abolition of surrogacy.

ICASM is also incredibly pleased to announce the membership of the association OBKECT UK https://objectnow.org/ which brings to 11 the number of countries where the Coalition is represented.

AUSTRIA: working to maintain the surrogacy ban

Earlier this year, Stopptleihmutterschaft, a member of the Coalition, helped prevent a surrogacy promotion operation organized by a Ukrainian agency.

This organization is currently working on a position paper bringing together multidisciplinary views on surrogacy (sociologists, psychologists, medical lawyers, midwives, etc.). This text will be sent to the Ministry of Justice, which has launched a consultation on the subject.

Good to know : in Austria, there is an official LGBT organization HOSI (Homosexuellen-Initiative) which is not in favour of surrogacy “…On the issue of surrogacy, the desire of homosexual men to have children and the need to protect women from exploitation are in conflict. Given the economic inequalities between rich and poor and between industrialised, emerging and developing countries, we see a danger that women may be exploited and even forced to do so in some parts of the world. In this context, we reject surrogacy. »

StopptLeihmutterschaft’s position is that there is no “right to have a child”, but that there are “children’s rights”, such as not being an object of commerce.

Thanks to Stopptleihmutterschaft for this information

CANADA – surrogacy commercialization is booming – OUTRAGEOUS!

On February 20, 2020, Canadian Senators introduced Bill S-216 ”to decriminalize, in certain circumstances, the payment of sperm or egg donors and surrogate mothers”.

In addition, this Bill S-216 considers the commercialization of the reproductive functions of women and men, and thus the exploitation of women, men and children, to be acceptable since it proposes the repeal of paragraph 2(f) of the current Assisted Human Reproduction Act, which states that: “the commercialization of the reproductive functions of women and men and the exploitation of women, men and children for commercial purposes raises health and ethical issues that justify its prohibition” (Only so-called altruistic surrogacy is allowed). See the full text of the Assisted Human Reproduction Act here.

Without any explanation, the commercialization of women’s reproductive functions would have suddenly become ethical… !

On March 12, 2020, Health Canada informed stakeholders taking part in the public consultation on the Assisted Human Reproduction Act of its intention to reduce physical examinations of egg donors so as not to interfere with the supply of donor eggs in Canada and thereby bring Canada in line with the requirements of other countries, including the United States. This revision is driven by market interests (supply and demand) and not by women’s health concerns and puts the health of egg donor women at risk. See the text here.

Thanks to PDF Québec for this information

UKRAINE: after the scandal, regulation?

At last news, the commissioning parents are gradually picking up the children born during the confinement. In the absence of data and monitoring by the Ukrainian government, we do not know if any of these children have been left behind. We also do not know the fate of Ukrainian surrogate mothers displaced to the sponsoring parents’ country at the time of delivery in the context of the pandemic.

Very comprehensive information on the current situation of surrogacy in Ukraine is available in English thanks to the interview carried out by ENoMV with Maria Dymtrieva, gender expert and feminist activist in Ukraine here.

SPAIN: still resisting

The Spanish feminist movement is concerned today about the law proposal of the Unidas Podemos party for the recognition of the right to self-determination of sexual identity.

Nevertheless, the issue of surrogacy is still there, revived by the Ukrainian baby scandal which inspired the group “Mujeres para la abolición” to launch a cyber-action, (shared and supported by the Coalition) towards the European Parliament and progressive political groups.

In addition, the organisation “Comisión para la investigación de malos tratos a mujeres” (a member of CIAMS) spoke in front of the Equality, Civil Service and Interior Commission of the Parliament of Navarra against the sexual and reproductive exploitation of women, on behalf of a newly formed abolitionist feminist platform in the region.

However, the Parliament of the Autonomous Community of the Balearic Islands has just condemned the surrogacy (with only one vote against by the Ciudadanos party). It also demands that the central government cancel the 2010 instruction which allows babies to be “imported” on the sole condition of a judicial ruling from the country of origin (notably the United States and Canada).

Thanks to Berta (RECAV) and Sara (Comisión para la investigación de malos tratos a mujeres) for these informations

NETHERLANDS: towards more flexible regulation?

A draft law on children, surrogacy and parentage has been submitted to the Minister of Legal Protection of the Netherlands. This bill aims to regulate surrogacy by loosening the current rules. The transfer of parentage to the intended parents would now be carried out before conception and validated by a judge. Currently, the transfer of parentage is carried out after childbirth through an adoption arrangement. The surrogate mother would appear on an additional sheet of the birth certificate. More information here.

Thanks to Berta (RECAV) for this information

LITHUANIA: acting internationally against surrogacy?

Surrogacy is illegal in Lithuania. Article 11 of the IVF 2016 Law declares all surrogacy agreements null and void.

However, the Seimas (Lithuanian parliament) has just issued a resolution disapproving of surrogacy. This resolution urges the President and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to initiate amendments to international treaties in order to facilitate the prohibition of surrogacy at national level. It also calls on the Council of Europe to be called upon and to launch an inquiry into compliance with existing international laws.  (N.B. one commentator points out that this new move by the Lithuanian parliament is probably linked to what has happened in Ukraine).

Thanks to Stopptleihmutterschaft for this information

ARGENTINA: pressure to regulate surrogacy

A bill to regulate surrogacy has been introduced in Argentina by Senator Julio Cobos. This politician voted in 2018 against the bill allowing abortion and recently promised that he would vote against it again next time. In 2007, he had already distinguished himself by opposing a law to protect the environment in the capital Mendoza by banning cyanide mining in the provincial territory.

He stated that “the desire to procreate or the will to procreate through the use of assisted reproductive technologies is a fundamental right implicit in the Argentine Constitution; in addition to a human right enshrined in the American Convention on Human Rights….  Surrogacy is an increasingly important practice in our society, as an alternative access to the status of father or mother for persons who wish to start a family and are unable to do so because of the impossibility of gestation or carrying a pregnancy to term, whether for health reasons such as infertility, or for reasons of sexual orientation, gender identity or sex. “article available here.

In addition to this proposed bill, a draft reform of the Civil Code, submitted by Deputy Gabriela Estévez aims to legalise surrogacy to celebrate the 10th anniversary of marriage for all (hetero and homosexuals!!).

Thanks to Berta (RECAV) for this information

COLOMBIA: Civil Code Reform including Surrogacy

A draft reform of the Colombian Civil Code, meant to give access to surrogacy, has just been drawn up by the Faculty of Law and Political and Social Sciences of the National University of Colombia. Minister Margarita Cabello Blanco, expressed her support to this reform, which will soon be the subject of a public consultation.

Here is the article devoted to surrogacy under Chapter 2: Rights over the body and its integral parts.

Article 51.  Surrogacy, of which a written record must be left to produce legal effects, is permitted with the prior informed consent of all parties involved. In this case, the donor of the genetic material shall be considered the biological mother, without the surrogate mother being entitled to rights different from those enshrined in the Convention of the Parties. Donors of genetic material shall be required to contribute to the medical and care costs required during pregnancy and until the postpartum period.

Thanks to Berta (RECAV) for this information

MEXICO: legislative pressure to organise surrogacy but the resistance is there

A Mexican feminist, Teresa C. Ulloa Ziáurriz Directora de la Coalición Regional contra el Tráfico de Mujeres y Niñas en América Latina y el Caribe (CATWLAC) describes the legislative situation in Mexico as follows: “There is an initiative in the Senate, one in the Chamber of Deputies and three others in the Congress of Mexico City to legalize surrogacy or, as Amelia Valcárcel puts it, “the reproductive prostitution of women“”.

She also explains that “Extreme poverty, lack of opportunities, the advance of organized crime and consumerism, provide an excellent soil for the sexual and reproductive exploitation of women and girls. Many feminicides of women close to the end of their pregnancies have been unleashed in Mexico. Their bodies were found with open bellies and without babies. This is a clear example of the deep violence that women are facing, due to the capacity which, in ancient times, had them considered as goddesses: their reproductive capacity“.  For more details, see the article here

Good news: a feminist coordination against surrogacy has just been set up between the National Feminist Abolitionist Front and the Regional Coalition against Trafficking in Women and Girls in Latin America and the Caribbean (Frente Nacional Feminista Abolicionista FNFA) y la Coalición Regional Contra el Tráfico de Mujeres y Niñas en América Latina y el Caribe (CATWLAC ).

Thanks to Berta (RECAV) for this information

Human trafficking and surrogacy (RUSSIA, INDIA)

Russia: Moscow’s Basmanny court sent gynaecologists accused of baby trafficking to prison.

The four people arrested were charged with human trafficking as part of an organized group, causing death by negligence, serious bodily harm to the victim or other serious consequences.

On 23 June, police reacted to a call from neighbours complaining about crying children. In the apartment, they found five babies between the ages of six days and six months. They were accompanied by two women: a nanny, a Chinese citizen, and another woman, probably a surrogate mother of one of the children. During the search, documents in Chinese for the adoption of two babies were found.

According to preliminary data, the fathers of the surrogate children are unique, but the mothers are different. The children could not be taken to China due to health restrictions related to the pandemic.  Read the article in Russian here.

Thanks to Anna Zobnina (ENoMV) for this information

India: A former Delhi doctor is arrested for organizing an illegal surrogacy operation to Nepal for Chinese clients.

Babies were sold to foreign nationals for the equivalent of 12,000 Euros each. The doctor recruited poor women from Bihar and Uttar-Pradesh (India) and then sent them to Siliguri in the state of West Bengal for IVF. After delivery the babies were sent to Nepal where they were sold to foreign nationals. (N.B. Nepal prohibits commercial surrogacy).  More details here.

Actions of ICASM

3 public speeches on behalf of the Coalition (France, UK and Ukraine) already carried out

    • June 2020 Audio intervention for the SCELLES Foundation, available as a podcast, on the political, economic and ethical issues of surrogacy with the title “Ready for a ready-made child ! »
    • June 2020 – Video intervention via Zoom organized by WHRC Women Human’s Rights Campaign under the title “All About Surrogacy. Ukraine, UK, Italy, France & Canada“.
    • July 2020 video intervention organized by la Strada (Ukraine) ” OPEN ONLINE DISCUSSION: Surrogacy: reproductive technology, exploitation or human trafficking? Exacerbation and new challenges in conditions of the pandemic” Pending publication.

4 Future Interventions

    • Toulouse, at the initiative of the Worldwide March
    • India, on the initiative of Sheela Saravanan
    • In Canada on the initiative of PDf Québec
    • In South America, on the Coalition’s initiative

2 institutional actions

France. Letters to 3 ministers (Justice, Health and Women’s Rights) to recommend an amendment in the future bioethics law making it clear that medically assisted procreation techniques are prohibited in cases where there is an agreement or presumption of agreement on surrogacy, as has been done in the Nordic countries.

European Parliament. ICASM proposed an amendment to the Draft Report on the Gender Perspective in the COVID-19 crisis and post-crisis period prepared by the FEMM Committee of the European Parliament. The amendment was introduced by an Italian MP approached by “Se Non Ora Quando Libere”, member of the Coalition. This amendment aims at adding prostitution, surrogate motherhood, early pregnancies and early marriages to the list of violence perpetrated during the confinement period.

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