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First-time opinion requested from top European Court: France seeks advice on surrogacy

Summary

  • ADF International intervenes at European Court of Human Rights on the dangers of surrogacy
  • Highest French court requests advice on legal approaches to surrogacy

STRASBOURG (31 January 2019) – Is there a right to a child? Today, ADF International intervened at the European Court of Human Rights regarding surrogacy laws in France. The country requested an advisory opinion on the legal issues surrounding surrogacy. ADF International’s intervention addresses the dangers surrogacy poses to the child, the surrogate mother, and to society, calling on the Court to affirm the fundamental rights of the most vulnerable in society.

“Surrogacy exploits women and treats children as commodities. It poses a serious threat to human dignity and the fundamental rights of all of the individuals involved. The child becomes an object for sale and is left in legal limbo. There is no ‘right’ to have or ‘commission’ a child.

Surrogacy exploits women and treats children as commodities. It poses a serious threat to human dignity and the fundamental rights of all of the individuals involved. The child becomes an object for sale and is left in legal limbo. There is no ‘right’ to have or ‘commission’ a child.

Surrogate mothers are also often in a socially vulnerable position, exploited by the multitude of actors involved, and similarly left in a legally uncertain situation. Surrogacy is a genuine threat to society as it undermines the family and commercializes the most vulnerable,” said Jennifer Lea, Legal Counsel for ADF International in Strasbourg.

Surrogacy in France

In 2000, the Mennesson family “commissioned” children from a surrogate mother in California using genetic material from the father and a third party egg donor. Upon attempting to transcribe the birth certificates of the resulting twins, France ruled that the “commissioning parents” could not be listed as mother and father as French domestic law forbids surrogacy. Following this, the “commissioning parents” appealed to the European Court of Human Rights. In 2014, the Court ruled that France had not violated the rights of the adults involved. However, in respect of the children, the Court ruled that they should have their genetically related father registered as their father. Several reviews of the case followed in domestic French courts. Now, the French Court of Cassation has asked for an advisory opinion from the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights on the status of the non-genetically related “commissioning mother.”

European laws on surrogacy

“European states generally prohibit surrogacy as they recognize that it violates the dignity of the child and the surrogate mother. The genetic and emotional implications of surrogacy for children, parents, and future generations pose a threat towards the family which is the core unit of our society. It is important to uphold these laws protecting children and the family from the raw, undignified commercialization of the human person by the surrogacy industry,” said Robert Clarke, Director of European Advocacy for ADF International.

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