The Committee on Social Affairs, Health, and Sustainable Development of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, meeting in Paris, voted on Wednesday to reject a proposal authored by Belgian Senator Dr. Petra De Sutter which called for the facilitation of surrogacy agreements.
“Surrogacy places the desires of adults above the needs of children and is an inherently exploitive practice,” said Alliance Defending Freedom International Director of EU Advocacy Sophia Kuby. “There is clear support among parliamentarians for a full ban on this multi-billion Euro, cross-border business.”
De Sutter’s report called for measures which would have required states to give effect to private surrogacy arrangements. Surrogacy is a practice whereby children are transferred from their birth mother to other parties, often in exchange for large sums of money. The practice has been criticized by many human rights organisations and was condemned in a 2011 resolution of the European Parliament as an “exploitation of the female body and her reproductive organs” that treats “women and children…as commodities on the international reproductive market…. [T]hese new reproductive arrangements, such as surrogacy, augment the trafficking of women and children and illegal adoption across national boarders.”
De Sutter’s proposals have been highly controversial. Many members of the committee have raised concerns about a conflict of interest given De Sutter’s connection with surrogacy clinics in India and regular comments to the media in favor of surrogacy.
“I was very disappointed that Dr. De Sutter’s report failed to criticize the human rights abuses involved in surrogacy,” said Sir Jeffery Donaldson MP, a member of the United Kingdom delegation, who participated in the debate in Paris. “The report was largely silent on the dangers of surrogacy; therefore, the committee was right to reject her resolution. Surrogacy is never in the best interests of either children or women.”
Referring to the next full meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg in October, he continued, “When we meet in Strasbourg, I and my committee colleagues will seek to persuade representatives from across Europe that the best way to protect women and children from exploitation is a full ban on all forms of surrogacy.”
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe is composed of 324 parliamentarians in 47 delegations from the national parliaments of each of the Council of Europe’s member states. The Council of Europe, based in Strasbourg, France, is an international organization, formed in 1949 with the purpose of upholding human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. The Council of Europe oversees the European Court of Human Rights.