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Gestation for others in France and the war in Ukraine

The war in Ukraine has brought to light the problem of surrogate pregnancy in France and the fraud to the law that underlies this practice. More and more voices call for an international treaty to avoid these situations.

Bernard García Larraín-June 22, 2022-Reading time: 4 minutes

Interview in Spanish

Wars produce unsuspected effects. This is why Jean-Paul II has said that war is "a path of no return" and "a spiral of pain and violence". As we know, in situations of humanitarian crisis, it is the most vulnerable people who are the most affected, especially children. On the occasion of the International Children's Day, Vatican News noted that "the toll of 98 days of war in Ukraine is dramatic. 700 minors have been killed or wounded". The case of mothers carrying Ukrainian nationality, who gave birth in France to children for French couples, could be seen in the same light. This situation has been largely covered by the press.

The technique of "gestational surrogacy" is prohibited by French law, but some jurists note a tendency of judges to legitimize this practice. A respected voice in the field of children's rights is that of law professor Aude Mirkovic. Founder and spokesperson of the NGO Juristes pour l'enfance, Professor Mirkovic explains this delicate situation that occurred in France a few weeks ago and which his NGO has brought to the attention of the authorities.

How was your vocation to be the voice of children's rights born?

I believe that the vocation of every jurist is to seek justice and the common good. This is common to all areas of law. In my case, I chose to specialize in family law and in particular the protection of children. I see the importance of these issues in my country and in the world in general. We sometimes think that many unjust situations at the children's level are being developed: exploitation, mistreatment, abuse, etc. However, these continue to sadly affect the lives of many children, and not only in developing countries. Moreover, in Europe, there is reproductive and sexual exploitation of breeding females; genetic manipulation and embryo selection are developing; the freezing of embryos for several years, etc.

Our NGO, which has observer status at the UN, gathers legal experts to continuously analyze the current situation. We examine in particular the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. We aim to contribute to the public debate on issues relating to children, a subject of constant topicality: it is not for nothing that President Macron, who was elected a few weeks ago, announced that this will be the priority of his new government. In this regard, we must be vigilant and ensure that political discourse translates into reality in all areas of children's lives. Often, vast aspects of respect for their dignity are not only ignored, but attacked.

Why is what has been happening in France with the Ukrainian porters so worrying?

We have pointed out to the authorities that, because of the war in Ukraine, French couples had sent Ukrainian women to our country to take care of children for these couples in the framework of a "mother-carrier" contract. Our action has been widely reported by the national and international media in a way that is quite unexpected for us. This is a very delicate situation because our law prohibits this practice in accordance with many express principles and rules.

These women come from a country at war, and this painful situation should not lead us to close our eyes to the reality of this technique, contrary to our law and to the

human dignity of mother and child. This type of contract is contrary to the dignity of the human person because it exploits, on the one hand, the vulnerable situation of mothers and, on the other hand, the legitimate desire of these couples to have children.

The intermediaries and agents who organize this market should be monitored more closely by the authorities. We are concerned about the fact that these agents operate very freely in our country: every year, a Child's Wish exhibition is organized in Paris where several companies promise these maternity contracts (we have already pointed this out to the authorities without really getting a response). The lawyers' offices also explain on their web sites the legal assistance necessary to conclude these contracts, etc. We note with sadness that the legal principles of our country are not respected due to the pressure imposed by this multi-billion euro market.

Il semble que ce soit un problème sans solution. Y a-t-il une issue ?

The problem for us is not the fact of having these women come to France in order to retrieve the children. The problem is the command and delivery of a child, and the use of a woman for this purpose. The fact that the birth and delivery of the child took place on French soil, while the carrier mother sometimes left her own children in Ukraine, makes more visible the terrible reality of pregnancy for someone else, but the war does nothing but displace what the contract stipulated, in any case, war or no war.

We should anticipate this problem, so that it is not possible to establish such contracts. This implies a commitment of the States to draw up and sign an international treaty interdictory of the technique of the carrying walls. This is what the French National Ethics Committee has recommended. We are working with a group of international legal experts that we will meet in Casablanca in 2023.

The authorBernard García Larraín

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