Surrogacy: a form of planned parenting yet to win EU-wide acceptance

Added on 31/10/2014

Our question this time in U-talk is: “European countries have very different positions concerning surrogacy. Where is it allowed and where is it prohibited? And do you think harmonisation of the different legislations is possible? “

The answer to this question comes from a legal expert with the Research Centre on Fundamental Rights, (CREDOF), at the University Paris Ouest, Nicolas Hervieu.

“The current situation concerning the issue of surrogacy is very diverse in Europe. Some countries expressly prohibit it, such as France of course, where recently there has been much debate about surrogacy. It’s also prohibited in Germany, Spain, Switzerland and Italy.

“Other countries, though far fewer, expressly authorise surrogacy on their soil, such as the UK, Greece, Russia or Ukraine. And there are countries which have not yet clearly decided in their legislations.

“Do we have to stick to this European diversity? Or, on the contrary, should we try to harmonise these different laws?

“For European institutions and European courts, the point is not about choosing between diversity or harmonisation.

“For the European Court of Human Rights for instance, such diversity is not a problem at all.

“This court is part of the international organisation called the Council of Europe which is made up of 47 European countries, (including the EU’s 28 member states). This court is different from the European Court of Justice based in Luxembourg and which is part of the EU.

“In two very important rulings, issued on 26/06/2014, (concerning the cases ‘Mennesson versus France’ and ‘Labassée versus France’), the European Court of Human Rights explicitly recognised that a state is entitled to prohibit surrogacy on its own soil.

“But the court also recognised that the prohibition of surrogacy could not be made at the expense of children legally born to surrogate mothers in a foreign country. It is for this reason alone that the court ruled against France.

“So in the short term all European states, including those prohibiting surrogacy on their soils, must formally recognise the filiation between the intended parents and those children born through surrogacy abroad.

“This is because otherwise this would violate the children’s right to an identity. Even so, these rulings are not going to entail a harmonisation of European legislations towards the acceptance of surrogacy.

“Some EU institutions differ from the European Court of Human Rights, but they have limited powers in family policy. They can have some influence on the issue but this does not imply harmonisation.

“In the medium- and the long-term, if harmonisation towards acceptance of surrogacy gets momentum in the European Union, it would be due to member states. In any case, the EU’s institutions and courts would only acknowledge it and legislate after this evolution.”



15 CommentsAdd yours

  • AlexGold - 23/09/2015 Reply

    It’s a great step for your society to recognize surrogacy as an essential thing. Admitting that present situation concerning the issue of surrogacy is very diverse in the world, not all the countries are so aggressive towards surrogacy. For me it was a great surprise that France a so multicultural country with broad-minded attitude to life can have the government with strict view to the cases of surrogacy. It seems to be unbelievable. Every person must have a right to person. As well as children must have right to an identity. It is great deal from the part of the European Court of Human Rights. I am sure that independent institutions have unbiased view of the problem. Meanwhile France just wants to acuminate the situation. The governments that don’t admit children born from the surrogate don’t respect their citizens at all. The people should have the right to decide their faith. It was not an easy decision for them to take up surrogacy. They also had to overcome a lot of difficulties. I can judge about it because I was in the same situation. Under the health circumstances I couldn’t bear a child. If I could I would bear it with all the pleasure and warmness. When I understood that surrogacy was my unique chance to have a baby I realized there were not so man chance for it.

  • AlexGold - 23/09/2015 Reply

    First of all, there are not so many countries that allow it legally. After searching information, reviewing the clinics and reading recommendation I decided to go to Ukraine. Of course, there were some strict conditions for couple to participate in surrogacy program. For example, only heterosexual married couples can participate in the program. And there must be medical indications of impossibility to have children. I totally agree with it. A child is not a joy. And if you just don’t want to spoil your shape it is not an indication for surrogacy. People must understand it. The clinic where we were treated worked due to the Ukrainian legislation. So we didn’t have any miscomprehension or problems. I think my success was thanks to the clinic Biotexcom. The personnel of that clinic just create miracles. It is real European clinic. Previously I had never been to Kiev so I didn’t imagine how it would be. My husband and I were pleasantly surprised with your staying in Kiev. The clinic provided us with accommodation, transfers and meals. So we didn’t feel unsafe in a new and unknown for us city. On the contrary we liked our staying. When our surrogate was pregnant we received ultrasounds every week. We also received photos and videos. To sum up I just want to say a big thank to the people who are involved in surrogacy. I mean legal surrogacy. Those people do work of enormous importance.

  • AlexGold - 23/09/2015 Reply

    I remember myself receiving the news our surrogate got pregnant and the first time I saw my son. After a long ways of suffering finally I reached the happiness. I really hope that other couples will win for sure the infertility and will be lucky to experience motherhood and fatherhood. I also hope that ruling class will also understand the problem of infertility. The government should help and not to impede their citizens to be happy. Most of people want to have their own families. They want to have their own children. Even adoption is not always a solution because everybody is aware how long the people should wait to adopt the child. In some cases it can take up to eight years. I don’t understand that French government. It was really inhumane from their part. Maybe I repeat myself but I completely convinced that the European Court of Human Rights made up the right decision. The bureaucracy is still one the vices of our society. Moreover, nobody asks to legalize surrogacy in their country. The only thing is recognize children born from surrogates. I am sure that they have the whole rights to be part of the family of their genetic parents. France should think about this issue very well.

  • MellSi - 23/09/2015 Reply

    Life is very unfair to good people. Unworthy people, who leave their children, get pregnant again and again. Otherwise worthy people, who are going to give everything for their children, are very often infertile. I cannot understand such truth of the life. But surrogacy for them very often is the last option to have biological children. The same time you can tell about adoption, but for sure this process is also not so simple. Very often the process of adoption is failed. I cannot understand why surrogacy should be prohibited if due to this happy children are born. As for me I am sure that surrogacy saves a lot of lives. I am very happy that international courts and governments of different countries return to the issue of surrogacy regulation. And for sure such difficult process should be strictly regulated. Couse the process of surrogacy can be very harmful and painful the same time. The proof of it is such countries as Mexico, Thailand, India. As infertile woman, who referred to fertility treatment and have grate experience, I am sure that surrogacy and egg donation in such countries should be strictly regulated or prohibited. I think I was luckier than many woman, I had a chance to bear a child. But I needed donor eggs.

  • MellSi - 23/09/2015 Reply

    I went through a serious surgery during which doctors had to dissect my ovarium out. Medical workers warned me of the consequences in future, in particular infertility. I had no choice in the matter because we did not think about fertility at that moment but how to save my life. Being 30 years old my husband and I gave thought to child. Having known my diagnosis we understood that I can bear a child only with the help of donor eggs and IVF program. Therefore, we gave a second thought to reproductive medical programs, studied all information and chose the country where we can take advantage of ART. India is one of the well postered among such countries. What I can say about India. We visited this country first of all. We were as you attracted of their rating. And their low cost was a big bonus for us. We chose reproductive medicine clinic that is in Anand city. There we were met by a kind woman, who was a clinic director. She told us that all their donors are faith worthy. None of them smoke, drink alcohol or take drugs. Medical program takes place under doctors’ control and in accordance with all norms. But you are very right concerning the Hindu race. We were considering it too. But still we wanted child to be like us, as far as possible in this case. We have taken note of the Indian clinic. But if to be honest we had another reasons not to choose Indian clinic. I met some couples, who told me some horrible stories.

  • MellSi - 23/09/2015 Reply

    I don’t want to judge and tell that India is a bad choice for surrogacy. But I am sure that couples should be serious and careful making a choice. This problem is not about money. Of course prices are very attractive. But some legends about India are not without a purpose. As other couples said, it is not truth that donors and surrogates are checked in a proper way. Most of them have infections, which they transfer to the unborn child. Donors also can have diseases and infections. Some of them can have genetic mutations which affect the child. Moreover if consider surrogate mothers, they don’t live in a good condition. They are very poor and don’t spend money for needed food and vitamins. Very often in India they give birth to ill children. I don’t know how much it is true. But I am not so risky. India has some pros, but they can’t cover the cons. Low cost is not the final aim. You should have healthy child. It is the main thing you should remember. I don’t know about Thailand, but I think it is the same situation as in India. I have heard that some accident was happened some time ago. But one more country I visited was Mexico. That was not so far away so it suited me more. Together with my husband we decided to go and visit some clinics we chose. This journey was a big surprise for us. Do you know that in the state of Tabasco the surrogacy program is not only for traditional families, but also for homosexuals, the carriers of the AIDS virus/HIV and patients with viral hepatitis. Yes, this is Mexico.

  • MellSi - 23/09/2015 Reply

    Surrogate mothers who are in the program, unfortunately, are not always checked properly. Not in all cases, they undergo a medical examination and testing. It entails a variety of diseases, malformations in the unborn child, complications with GS/childbirth, and much more. Any legally working and self-respecting clinic will never allow such violations. For me it is completely unacceptable! We went away from that country without any results. I was so upset. I dropped my hand. I need more time to settle all the information I have. We spent some money for travel in Mexico and it was our big mistake. It took much time to make myself calm down. It was a great disaster after Mexico. I felt like only cheaters were around me. The worst was that I didn’t want to continue all that journey. Husband proposed me adoption, but I couldn’t hear about it. I think that conversation woke me up. We decided to take a time break and go somewhere for rest. My husband made real second honey-moon)) He made me strong and gave me forces to continue with positive mood. You can be sure that positive attitude is the way to success) So our next step was Spain, clinic in Barcelona. Visiting Spanish center we were impressed with the high level of organization and services quality. Having got to know all programs’ proposals and conditions we signed the contract.

  • MellSi - 23/09/2015 Reply

    After medical examinations (tests, ultrasound and semen analysis) we have chosen a suitable donor and began stimulation. I took hormonal drugs during more than a month. Program was conducted with the use of frozen oocytes. Embryo transfer did not last long but was rather painful. Unfortunately, the result was negative – I was not pregnant. Doctors explained that it happens so because not all are lucky to become pregnant on the first try. As a result, they twisted our arm and we agreed for another two IVF attempts in their clinic. It should be noted that during this time we have spent a lot of money. We had to pay separately for each IVF attempt. In addition, expenses for accommodation, meal, transfer, some medicines and flight was also shouldered as a burden. But it is not the most important thing, because our dream was so long-awaited child. After three attempts in Spain we have not reached our goal. After we came back home we talked to those who also went through donation program. In addition we studied information about eggs cryopreservation and realized that the problem was just in freeze. Process of cryopreservation of genetic material adversely affects its quality that’s why very often the result is negative. Having already some experience and being taught from own mistakes we continued our search for the ideal clinic.

  • MellSi - 23/09/2015 Reply

    First of all it will be useful to learn the legislation of the country you will choose for surrogacy. It is very important to be protected by legislation. For example when I went in Russia I have no any ideas about their legislation base. In the Russian Federation doctors argue that » you will not go back home without successful pregnancy». Russia was a distant and unknown country for us. Rumors of its underdevelopment and poor service walked over Internet networks and forums. Nevertheless we decided to take a chance. Level of service fades in comparison with possible parenthood. Having arrived in St. Petersburg, we did not see high European standards. But it was quite good. Our doctor, obstetrician-gynecologist listened to our history. She studied all medical records, conducted a number of tests and said: «Do not worry my dear, we will try our best. Everything will be ok!» We man up, psyched us up for success and started new treatment inRussia. Egg donor and I were stimulated in order to synchronize our menstrual cycles. Again and again I took hormonal drugs. I felt bad but had a firm belief in good result. After embryos transfer my husband prayed with bated breath. But … that attempt was not successful as well. We were a bit disappointed and downhearted. All these torments, clinics in different countries and numerous failed attempts had been lasting for ten years.

  • MellSi - 23/09/2015 Reply

    During this time I had took an incredible amount of hormonal medicines. I went through a lot of medical tests. And, frankly speaking, I was tired mentally and physically. Only after some time I had read legislation of Russia. I was shocked and impressed. It turns out that surrogate mother has much more rights than biological parents. If she wants she has a right to leave a child for herself. It is a good chance to pull out the money from biological parents. And as I know Russian girls do it too often. And one day we saw an advertising of reproductive medicine clinic BioTexCom. Centre offered unimaginable conditions and 100% guarantee of success. Medical package includes meeting at the airport, transfer, accommodation, meal and medical program with a certain number of attempts. All these are included in a fixed sum for the program. We paid not a penny more. Weighing all the «pros» and «cons» my husband said me: «I love you and want to raise our own children. So I’m with you and together we will go through all difficulties». So we went to Ukrainian capital, Kiev. Center for human reproduction BioTexCom. We felt that everything will turn out good just having left the airport. We were met by a clinic’s driver –friendly, polite man stood with a sign where our surname was written. He helped us with the luggage and conducted to the car. When he brought us to the clinic a pretty lady met us on the doorstep — she charted with us before our arrival and was our manager-translator during the program.

  • MellSi - 23/09/2015 Reply

    She led us to the clinic, offered coffee and we got to know each other better. She spoke English very well and we had no problems communicating. Then we visited a doctor. She talked to us and conducted ultrasound investigation. The doctor told me that they conduct programs using exclusively fresh oocytes, apply best practices and have a high deliverable. She added that we were not the first ones in BioTexCom clinic who came after unsuccessful attempts made abroad. Further there were a standard procedure of stimulation, which I already knew by heart and embryo transfer. In Ukraine, during preparation for the program, I took such medicines as Progesterone, Oksiprogesteron, Proginova, Utrozhestan and various vitamin complexes. It is important to take into account the fact that all medicines were given to me in the clinic and I did not pay extra for them. In BioTexCom center doctors calculate the perfect day for transferring and use the highest quality biological material. Well, let alone all these details, as result tells louder than words — after the first attempt I finally got pregnant! We were as happy as a pig in mud! We could hardly believe that our dream came true – I was pregnant and we were waiting for our long-awaited child. I will not go into details concerning the level of services and country as a whole.

  • MellSi - 23/09/2015 Reply

    Yes, Ukraine is not a country with European level, but people there are very kind and friendly. And doctors of BioTexCom are really professionals and sometimes work wonders using modern technologies and unique techniques. I want to say that of course there are a lot of options for people who want to become parents. But the way is hard and painful. It will be absolutely perfect if governments facilitate this process. Infertile people have enough troubles on top of everything else. So governments shouldn’t complicate their lives by impossibilities of child registration. Infertility is a plague of 21 century. We should treat it and not to complicate. It is a world statistics and fact that infertility is a global problem! Every seventh couple in the world cannot conceive a baby in a natural way. But so many people who want children to be in their families so much! And assisted methods of reproductive modern medicine can help such people, it can and help day by day in countries where it is allowed by the law. These are Ukraine, India, Russia, Georgia, and some others as I know. It’s great that such countries and such laws can be found today. And people can buy a ticket and fly to these states and find their happiness.

  • Zoey - 16/01/2016 Reply

    You know the Europe is mostly against the surrogate motherhood procedure. The only chance for the infertile families to use it is to visit the country where surrogacy is legal. Until the recent times these were India, Thailand, and Mexico. But after they stopped to conduct surrogate motherhood on their territory Ukraine and the USA have stayed. And still people have the places to go in order to use all the advantages of the assisted reproductive technologies. Knowing that there is surrogacy and egg donation procedures infertile people do not want to try something another. They want just surrogacy and egg donation. Meanwhile authorities of some European countries emphasize that surrogacy is banned and illegal procedure. Thus the Italian minister noted that surrogate motherhood can be compared with the sex crime. He said that intended parents who used surrogacy should be treated like sex offenders and he proposed to send such ones to prison. It must be also noted that some Italian families have used services of surrogate mothers abroad and their children’s status is legally shaky and has led to prolonged battles in the Italian courts. Surrogacy is currently illegal in Italy, punishable by fines and up to two years in prison.

  • Olly1 - 18/08/2016 Reply

    Surrogacy is a good alternative for infertile couples. It enables intended parents to choose the surrogate mother and review the background before agreeing to the process. Unlike in adoption, there is no way to find out the background of the parent’s child. Moreover, there is a genetic link between the surrogate child and the intended parents. Even if the child is carried and nurtured by the surrogate mother, the child will still have a genetic link with the intended parents because they have contributed their own cells during the conception. There are places that same sex couples are not allowed to adopt. There are also strict laws on surrogacy but there are no laws where same sex couples can undergo surrogacy. Of course, surrogacy nowadays is still very expensive procedure. But you can always find a good alternative. Especially in the East Europe. Although, the service maybe not so good, but i heard that they do their best.

  • Fiona32 - 18/08/2016 Reply

    The legality of surrogacy is a difficult question. It`s foolishly to quarrel on this subject. Personally I think that it`s up to us to decide whether to use it or not. Government or different organizations can`t decide instead of us how we should live our lives. First of all, people who make decision to use surrogate mother in order to have a child or to earn some money by means of surrogacy are clear-headed and reasonable. Be sure, they have thought carefully, before choosing it. Government shouldn’t decide what we can or can’t do with our bodies or our life. Especially for me the topic of surrogacy is very sensitive as I`m infertile. Surrogacy became really the last hope for us to have a baby. But it`s very difficult to do it in Europe. In many countries it`s completely forbidden. And in countries which allow surrogacy, the prices are really huge… We think over Ukraine now, but I`m not sure enough. Their price is wonderful, and service is on the high level. One of the clinics, Biotexcom offers prices which are much lower than in Europe, but the service is on the same level like here…Well, time will tell.

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