International conference calls for worldwide ban on surrogacy

surrogate, Virginia, surrogacy, adoption

An international conference debated and discussed the issue of surrogacy, with many of the participants calling for a worldwide ban on the commercialization and commodification of women’s bodies.

Last March, a similar conference led to the signing of the Casablanca Declaration, signed by approximately 100 experts from 75 countries. Hosted at the Libera Università Maria SS. Assunta (LUMSA) in Rome, this year’s conference featured Olivia Maurel, an anti-surrogacy advocate who was conceived herself in surrogacy, as well as Eugenia Rocella, Italy’s Minister for the Family, and Msgr. Mirosław Wachowski, Under-Secretary for Relations with States and International Organisations for the Vatican. Reem Al Salem, special rapporteur on violence against women for the United Nations, was also present.

Wachowski stressed that the battle against surrogacy should not be characterized as a purely Catholic issue. “Surrogacy induces depersonalisation,” he said. “It is important to avoid giving the impression that this is a Catholic battle. To achieve an international ban, we need a broad front of agreement.”

Members of Rainbow Families, an Italian gay family advocacy group, protested during the conference. “They are our children from the moment they are born,” Cristiano Giraldi, a 45-year-old father of twins born through surrogacy, told AFPTV. “We are a family like many others.”

READ: Man arrested after planning to sexually abuse baby expected via surrogate

Yet Maurel pushed back against that, saying that while she understands the desire to become a parent, being conceived in surrogacy left her with lifelong trauma, and that positive stories don’t make surrogacy ethical. “There is no right to have a child,” she said. “But children do have rights, and we can say surrogacy violates many of these rights.”

She further argued that surrogacy differs from adoption because children are being intentionally created with the goal of being separated from their mothers. Wachowski agreed, saying it dehumanizes the children created in the process. “Parents find themselves in the role of being providers of genetic material, while the embryo appears more and more like an object: something to produce — not someone, but something,” he said.

Earlier this year, Pope Francis gave a speech in which he decried surrogacy as “deplorable.” The Vatican is expected to release a paper on Monday on the issue of human dignity, which will include surrogacy.

“The path to peace calls for respect for life, for every human life, starting with the life of the unborn child in the mother’s womb, which cannot be suppressed or turned into an object of trafficking,” Pope Francis said in January. “In this regard, I deem deplorable the practice of so-called surrogate motherhood, which represents a grave violation of the dignity of the woman and the child, based on the exploitation of situations of the mother’s material needs. A child is always a gift and never the basis of a commercial contract.”

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