Intervention in the name of the International Coalition for the Abolition of Surrogacy Motherhood, coalition composed of 26 feminist and women rights associations, from 8 countries – at the meeting organized by the International Social Service, The Hague, 8th of December 2018.
From a women rights perspective, surrogacy needs to be considered from at least three points of view, crossing the method of analysis, the langage used to designate it and the basis of legitimation of social practices (the human rights).
– first of all, in terms of method – intellectual and also political-, surrogacy should be viewed as a whole phenomenon, at a global scale, and not at the individual, or territorial level. As a global phenomenon, surrogacy appears as a huge market generating enormous profits. On this biomarket, it is women who provide the goods and even who are the raw material. Structural inequalities between women and men (both at a national and at an international level) explain the « choice » (in inverted commas) some women make, to become surrogate mothers. But in doing so, this biomarket strengthen and intensifies inequalities. As a global phenomenon, surrogacy concerns not only surrogate mothers, but also all women, and of course, the global relations between men and women.
– secondly, from a language perspective, surrogacy should be referred to as a social practice, and not as simply another Artificial Reproductive Technology. The techniques used are the IVF (in-vitro fertilization and artificial insemination). But the commodification of a human being, is not a technique. Surrogacy is a social practice, which can be seen as a set of economical and commercial arrangements (generating multi-billion dollars profits over the world). As a social practice, the only persons who take risks for their physical and mental health and even for their lives, are the women (constrained to be) surrogate mothers. All the other parties are either making profits, or attaining their individual goals (they get the baby they wanted). This social practice consists in a specific appropriation of women reproductive capacities.
– thirdly, the main criterion is the conformity with the human rights. While considering human rights of women in regard with surrogacy, one must remember that those rights are inalienable. Besides, human rights are founded on the human dignity, which is inherent in every human being. But the commodification of the person (woman) body or of (women) body parts is incompatible with human dignity. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has considered the principle of defence of human dignity as a main goal to be pursued within national sovereignty, but also within international relations, excluding therefore the legitimacy of every exchange practice, both economic and altruistic, with human being playing the main character.
Surrogacy is contrary to human dignity and is inconsistent with the international human rights texts currently in force.
Deciding to regulate surrogacy is a way of legitimating this activity. What we ask, is to consider the abolition of surrogacy as an alternative to the regulation. Some States regulated the practice, some other prohibit it. There is no ethical, no moral, no political necessity to consider only the regulatory choice, and not the abolitionist one. States who prohibit surrogacy are democratic States, and the prohibition is based on human rights international references. Regional institutions – the European Parliament and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe- also took up position against the recognition and regulation of surrogate motherhood.
It is necessary to build up the conditions for a global abolition of the surrogate motherhood.
We must not make a parallel with adoption, which is not only legal but a way of giving parents to abandoned children. If one takes seriously that the surrogacy does breach the dignity of human beings, who are neither to be sold nor to be used as mere things, there is no possible regulation. We would not regulate traffic of human beings or selling of human beings, but prohibit it, with heavy sanctions.
CIAMS Coalition For the Abolition of Surrogacy Motherhood