International experts call for worldwide abolition of surrogacy

An international group composed of experts from a variety of backgrounds has launched a proposal to ban surrogacy worldwide, stating that it exploits women and commodifies children. 

The Casablanca Declaration, signed in Morocco on March 3 by a diverse group of approximately 100 experts from 75 countries, stresses that surrogacy should be illegal worldwide. Acknowledging the pain of couples suffering from infertility, the declaration asserts that the practice can never be acceptable because it “violates human dignity” and “contributes to the commodification of women and children.”

The group argues that “no framework whatsoever” can make surrogacy ethical. “The idea of ethical surrogacy is a decoy, as it is not a feasible or attainable concept.”

The text of the declaration states that “the Casablanca Declaration stands out from other existing international initiatives in the field of surrogacy:  It advocates for the abolition of surrogacy rather than framework for it. … The Declaration requests that countries take measures against surrogacy.”

The group — which consisted of lawyers, doctors, psychologists, and other experts that hailed from five continents — is calling for nations worldwide to not only ban surrogacy in their countries, but also denounce the practice and pursue legal action against corporations, couples, and individuals who act as party or intermediary to anyone using a surrogate mother, whether paid or “altruistic.” And in fact, at least one MP has cited the declaration when calling upon his government to do exactly that. 

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The practice of surrogacy is a worldwide, multi-billion dollar industry which grows and thrives in countries where oversight is slim to none. However, there are no safeguards against exploitation of women and children, as parents are not subject to background checks — something that was pointed out when YouTuber Shane Dawson (who has a history of comments that ostensibly sexualize children and created embryos with the intent of finding a surrogate mother) joked, our babies have barcodes.” 

Surrogacy is also dangerous and often exploitative for women, according to Center for Bioethics and Culture founder and president Jennifer Lahl, who warns of the physical, psychological, and social risks of being a surrogate mother, as well as the ethical issues of commodifying human life. It is an industry that preys upon the vulnerable, booming in nations like Georgia, where desperately poor women are lured into renting their wombs for low prices to foreign couples who want babies.

Similarly, as Live Action News reported, the surrogacy industry is thriving in Colombia, where surrogacy is unregulated, in which destitute women are recruited to carry children for wealthy clients, often without proper medical care or legal protection. 

Pope Francis has spoken out strongly against the practice of surrogacy, as well. “The dignity of men and women is … threatened,” he said in June of 2022, according to the Catholic Herald, “by the inhumane and increasingly widespread practice of ‘womb renting,’ in which women, almost always poor, are exploited, and children are treated as commodities.”

The signatories of the Casablanca Declaration seek to present their text before governing bodies like the Council of Europe or the United Nations, as a first step toward enacting the goal of multilateral agreements between countries to ban surrogacy.

“We followed the model of learned societies to put our expertise at the service of a cause and make concrete proposals,” Aude Mirkovic, senior lecturer in law and one of the main facilitators of the initiative, said, according to CNA. “It is easier to get governments to sign up to something that already exists than to have to think up a political project from scratch, and this can create a ripple effect.”

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