Surrogacy in France and the Ukrainian war

The war in Ukraine has clearly shown the problem of surrogacy in France and the fraudulent nature of the law behind this practice. More and more voices call for an international treaty to prohibit such cases.

Bernard García Larraín-June 20, 2022-Reading time: 4 minutes

Photo: Aude Mirkovic

Interview in French

Wars produce unsuspected effects. This is why John Paul II said that war is "a road of no return" and "a spiral of mourning and violence. As is well known, in situations of humanitarian crisis, it is the most vulnerable people who are most affected, especially children. On the occasion of International Children's Day Vatican News stated that "the toll of 98 days of war in Ukraine is dramatic. 700 minors have been killed or wounded". The case of surrogate mothers of Ukrainian nationality, who have given birth in France to the children of French couples, could be placed along the same lines. This situation was widely covered by the press.

The technique of "surrogacy" is forbidden by French law, but some jurists note a tendency of judges to legitimize this practice. A respected voice on children's rights issues is that of law professor Aude Mirkovic. Founder and spokesperson of the NGO Jurists for childrenProfessor Mirkovic explains this delicate situation that occurred in France a few weeks ago and which her NGO brought to the attention of the authorities.

How was your vocation to be a voice for children's rights born?

I think 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 the specialty of family law and in particular child protection. I see the importance of these issues in my country and in the world in general. Sometimes we think that many unfair situations regarding children are over: exploitation, mistreatment, abuse, etc. However, these continue to sadly affect the lives of many children not only in developing countries. In Europe, too, there is reproductive and sexual exploitation of surrogate mothers; genetic manipulation and embryo selection; the freezing of embryos for many years, etc.

Our NGO, which has observer status at the UN, brings together legal experts to constantly analyze current affairs. In particular, we focus on the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. We seek to collaborate, from our air, in the public debate on issues related to children, a topic of constant topicality: not for nothing, President Macron, re-elected a few weeks ago, has announced that it will be the priority of his new government. In this regard, we must be vigilant to ensure that the political discourse becomes a reality in all areas of children's lives. Often, broad aspects of respect for their dignity are not only ignored, but attacked.

¿Why the situation that has arisen in France with the mothers of children born in France is worrisome? replacement Ukrainian?

We pointed out to the authorities that during the war in Ukraine, French couples had brought to our country Ukrainian women hired to gestate children for these couples under a "surrogate mother" contract. Somewhat unexpectedly for us, our action was widely reported in the national and international media. It is a very delicate situation because our law prohibits this practice by virtue of numerous principles and express norms.

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, which is contrary to our law, to the human dignity of the mother and the 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 the surrogate 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 pursued with more determination by the authorities. We are concerned that these agents act with great freedom in our country: every year in Paris, a trade fair is organized for Désir d'enfant ("desire for a child") in which various companies promote these surrogacy contracts (we have already pointed this out to the authorities without really getting a response). Also law firms explain on their websites the legal assistance to conclude these contracts, etc. We see with sadness that the legal principles of our country are not respected because of the pressure that this multi-billion euro market imposes.

It seems to be a problem with no solution. Is there a way out?

The problem itself is not the fact of bringing these women to give birth in France in order to get the children back. The problem is the request and delivery of a child, and the use of a woman for this purpose. The fact that the birth and delivery of the child take place on French territory, while the surrogate mother has sometimes left her own children in Ukraine, makes the terrible reality of surrogacy more visible, but the war only displaces what the contract says, in any case, war or no war.

We should anticipate this problem, so that it is not possible to establish such contracts. This means a commitment on the part of the States to draft and sign an international treaty prohibiting the surrogacy technique. This is what the French National Ethics Committee has recommended. We are working in this direction with a group of international legal experts with whom we will meet in Casablanca in 2023.

The authorBernard García Larraín

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