On 11 October, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe at its autumn plenary session will consider a draft recommendation in relation to surrogacy arrangements.
As you know, the report appended to this recommendation was rejected by 19 votes to 17 by the PACE Social Affairs Committee.
We ask you, as well as all the members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, to reject that recommendation and to defend the rights of women, in particular the most vulnerable.
The first item in this recommendation is to “consider the desirability and feasibility of drawing up European guidelines to safeguard children’s rights in relation to surrogacy arrangements”.
Such an item is not acceptable. Recommending guidelines that organize for the consequences of surrogacy arrangements, instead of requiring first the abolition of surrogacy, is akin to accepting surrogacy as an existing fact.
However surrogacy is in itself a serious attack on basic human rights, and as such is considered as contrary to public policy by many Member States of the Council of Europe.
This first item is also redundant, as the Member States of the Council of Europe have all ratified the International Convention on the Rights of the Child. Thus they are committed to safeguarding children’s rights, not to endorsing new forms of exploitation and alienation. They should be trusted to handle as best they can individual cases. It would be pointless and dangerous to provide them with guidelines encouraging them to merely manage a fait accompli, without considering the urgent necessity for all democratic states to put a stop to surrogacy.
Last but not least, this item contradicts directly the December 2015 decision of the European Parliament to “condemn the practice of surrogacy, which undermines the human dignity of the woman since her body and its reproductive functions are used as a commodity”, and to “consider that the practice of gestational surrogacy which involves reproductive exploitation and use of the human body for financial or other gain, in particular in the case of vulnerable women in developing countries, shall be prohibited and treated as a matter of urgency in human rights instruments”.
The second item in this recommendation is to “collaborate with the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH) on private international law issues surrounding the status of children […]”.
This second item is dangerous, as the Parentage / Surrogacy Project of the Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference basically aims at organizing surrogacy arrangements globally.
Working with the Hague Conference on Private International Law on issues encountered in relation to surrogacy, whether it be for-profit or supposedly non-profit, directly contradicts the condemnation by the European Parliament mentioned above.
Furthermore, the works of the HCCH are biased: the group of experts appointed by the Hague Conference last February is made not only of state representatives and Secretariat members, but also of lawyers, some of them who are professionally involved in surrogacy cases. In addition to member states, the only professionals and organizations that have been consulted all have some sort of vested interest in surrogacy arrangements. The experts who have been asked to take part in the production of legal texts meant to regulate surrogacy internationally are thus intermediaries that at some level make business from it.
We remain at your disposal if you need further information.