On April 5 and 6, the “International Conference for the Universal Abolition of Surrogacy” took place in Rome, with the participation of representatives of international organizations, politicians and academics who sought to generate a public debate on this practice.

The conference was organized by the expert signatories of the Declaration of Casablanca. In that document, presented on March 3, 2023, more than 100 people of 75 nationalities pledged to fight against surrogacy in order to protect and preserve human dignity and the rights of women and children, by implementing the following measures:

  • Prohibit surrogacy on their territory.
  • Deny any legal validity to contracts bearing the undertaking from a woman to carry and deliver a child.
  • Punish individuals and corporations acting as intermediaries between the surrogacy mothers and the orderers.
  • Prosecute individuals who have recourse to a surrogate mother on their territory.
  • Prosecute their nationals who have recourse to a surrogate mother outside their territory.
  • Act in favor of the implementation of a legal instrument bearing global prohibition of the surrogacy.

The objective of the Conference was to determine the ethical limits of surrogacy and raise awareness about a business in full expansion, which generated 14 billion euros in 2022.

The spokesperson for the Casablanca Declaration, Olivia Maurel, is a French woman who, after a complicated and troubled adolescence in which she felt she did not fit in with her family, took a DNA test when she reached adulthood and discovered that she had been born through surrogacy. That discovery gave meaning to her life. Since then she has been an activist fighting for a worldwide ban on this practice, which goes against human dignity.

The day before the Conference began, both Maurel, who is an atheist and feminist, and other representatives of the Casablanca Declaration were received in a private audience by Pope Francis, who expressed his support for them and showed his total opposition to surrogacy.

Already on January 8, in his speech to members of the diplomatic corps, the Pope declared: “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. Consequently, I express my hope for an effort by the international community to prohibit this practice universally.”

Miroslaw Wachowski, Undersecretary of the Section for States and International Organizations of the Secretariat of State of the Holy See, participated in the Conference, calling to defend the dignity of women and children. The Minister of Family, Birth and Equal Opportunities of Italy, Eugenia Roccella, and Reem Alsalem, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women and Girls, also participated.

Where is surrogacy legal?

Some of the places where surrogacy is legal are the following: United States, Canada, Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, South Africa, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Greece, India, Thailand, Mexico and Brazil.

At the moment, this practice has been explicitly prohibited in a few countries such as France, Germany, Croatia and Egypt. In Spain it is not allowed, but children born abroad after having resorted to a surrogate can be registered.

In Italy it has been classified as a universal crime and the Senate is expected to approve in a few months a bill that provides for prison sentences ranging from three months to two years, and fines of up to one million euros for those who “buy” children, even in foreign countries where this practice is legalized.

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