PACE to discuss controversial draft on surrogacy

On Monday 23 November the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) will meet in Paris to discuss, inter alia, a report on Surrogacy Motherhood, “Human Rights and ethical issues related to surrogacy”.

As we reported in a previous post, the Committee made a highly controversial choice in appointing Belgian Senator Petra de Sutter as rapporteur for this report. De Sutter, a male-to female transgender person, is gynaecologist by profession and heads the Department for reproductive medicine at the University Hospital of Gent, Belgium – one of four Belgian hospitals that practice surrogacy despite the lack of a legal framework for this in Belgium. It seems obvious that he/she has a commercial interest in making surrogacy “legal” and “acceptable”. 

He/she expressed his/her opinion on the issue of Surrogacy Motherhood earlier this year in the Belgian newspaper La Libre on 3 February this year, saying that “I am in favour of a liberal regulation of surrogacy but accompanied by a ban on all forms of commercial surrogacy.”  Apparently this is a position he/she expects could be shared by mainstream politicians, notably those who are not interested in, and not informed of, what is really at stake in this debate.

However, that approach is glaringly hypocritical, and one would have to (pretend to) be very naive to share it. For Mr./Mrs. De Sutter, a ban on all forms of commercial surrogacy” only means that potential surrogate mothers should not be allowed to offer surrogacy on a commercial scale, but it obviously does not mean that gynaecologists (like him/herself) should be prevented from offering surrogacy on a commercial scale, i.e. on a regular basis and for profit. Also, banning surrogacy “on a commercial scale” does not necessarily mean that surrogate mothers should not be remunerated. It just means that they must pretend to be acting “out of compassion”, and will then nevertheless claim payments in form of a “compensation”.

In other words, the draft that Mr./Mrs. De Sutter will be presenting is the proverbial “Troyan horse” through which she intends to make surrogacy acceptable. This is the usual salami tactics: first get the controversial practice accepted in some “exceptional circumstances” and under a “rigorous legal framework”, and then work towards interpretations that will gradually make the circumstances less “exceptional” and the rules less “onerous”.

What Europe really needs is a complete ban against surrogacy, which is a gravely immoral practice irrespective of the circumstances and the possible remuneration, turning women into living incubators and children into commercial merchandise. Surrogacy is the radical negation of human dignity. However, while feminist groups are wary of the threat surrogacy poses for women’s dignity, LGBT pressure-groups are keenly pushing for having it legalized, given that this would give homosexual couples nearly unlimited access to other people’s children.

On the website of the petition No Maternity Traffic, you can find a report with information about the gruesome reality of surrogacy, both “commercial” and “altruistic”.