February 20, 2024

In support of surrogacy: a response to the Pope’s call for a universal ban

Now for a look at the other side of the surrogacy debate. Pope Francis recently condemned it as “a grave violation of the dignity of the woman and the child”. He called for a universal ban. While they came as no surprise, his words were echoed in media around the world.

In a recent issue of BioNews, Natalie Gamble, a surrogacy lawyer and agent, Kirsty Horsey, a law professor at the University of Kent, Emily Jackson, a law professor at the London School of Economics, argue that the Pope’s concerns are largely unwarranted.

They admit that women can be exploited in poor countries, but that is all the more reason why surrogacy should be permitted in developed countries where legal protections are available and enforced. They say that:

surrogacy is a collaborative arrangement based on mutual trust, respect and informed consent, in which a woman volunteers to help someone else have a family. Specialist professionals (including surrogacy organisations, lawyers, counsellors, psychologists and/or medical professionals) protect those involved, ensuring informed consent and keeping everyone safe. Much wanted and loved children are brought into the world, with positive birth stories of which they are proud, and in the long term, they thrive. This is the lived experience of most surrogacy cases we see, certainly when surrogacy is practised ethically in countries like the UK and the USA.

They call for regulation. “Both in principle and in practice, seeking to ban all surrogacy is therefore not the way forward. The answer is instead to encourage policymakers around the world to grasp the nettle and manage surrogacy properly.”

Meanwhile, on the Continent, the European Union is moving slowly towards its own ban on surrogacy. A new directive will include “exploitation of surrogacy” as a form of human trafficking. “At last, surrogacy has been named by Europe for what it is, a new form of trafficking”, said Olivia Maurel, the child of a surrogate mother and spokesperson for the Casablanca Declaration.