EWL News

2nd NGO European meeting on the abolition of surrogacy in Italy

[Rome, 24 March 2017, report from Stephanie Thögersen, Swedish Women’s Lobby] The 2nd European meeting on the abolition of surrogacy took place in Italy on 23 March, one year after the first gathering in Paris, where a charter for the universal abolition of surrogacy motherhood has been unveiled and signed by several decision-makers. Stephanie Thogersen, from the Swedish Women’s Lobby, represented the EWL at this important event, which gathered experts, women’s organisations, and decision-makers.

In Italy, surrogacy motherhood is illegal. Now the Italian women’s organisation Se non ora quando - SNOQ Libere wants to take the next step and ask the CEDAW committee to make a recommendation against surrogacy. The event of 23 March in the Italian parliament was an opportunity for SNOQ Livere to gather signatures from decision-makers in light of the CEDAW discussion.

Several ministers and parliamentarians spoke about the exploitation and commodification of women’s bodies that surrogacy involves. "Surrogacy is slavery, therefore it must be criminalised like other crimes" the Italian Minister for the Relations with the Parliament Anna Finoccciaro said. The Minister together with politicians and NGO representatives also signed the petition to the CEDAW committee.

Stephanie Thögersen from the Swedish Women’s Lobby was invited to speak about the Swedish experiences and work against surrogacy, and she highlighted the work of the European Women’s Lobby and the importance of the European Parliament resolutions against surrogacy. She quoted the 2015 EP resolution on human rights and democracy in the world where the EP “condemns the practice of surrogacy, which undermines the human dignity of the woman since her body and its reproductive functions are used as a commodity; considers 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”.

It is clear that the next question in the surrogacy debate is how to put in place policies against surrogacy outside of national borders. Several countries like Italy, France and Germany, have banned surrogacy in their countries, but as citizens who want to involve in surrogate arrangement do so abroad, this must be addressed.

As Sheela Saravanan, who is researcher on surrogacy in Germany, said at the Rome conference, "The German law against surrogacy has been put in place to protect German women from exploitation. But why should it be legal to exploit women in surrogacy in other countries?"

As this question needs to be addressed, a first step is to take the issue of surrogacy to the UN which will be done next week.

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