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February 22, 2024

Pope Francis Calls for Global Ban on Surrogacy, Says it Turns Children into “Commerce”

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Jan 8, 2024

Pope Francis made a major policy address on Monday calling for a universal ban on the “deplorable” practice of surrogate motherhood, arguing it exploits desperate women and turns babies into “commodities.”

Speaking to ambassadors accredited to the Holy See, Francis returned to a series of social issues he cares deeply about, including the “throwaway culture” that puts economic interests above human relationships.

Background on Catholic Church’s Stance on Surrogacy and Reproductive Technologies

The Catholic Church has long opposed reproductive technologies that enable surrogate motherhood or in vitro fertilization, arguing that children have the right to be conceived naturally through an act of love between married couples. It also opposes same-sex marriage and adoption by same-sex couples for similar reasons.

In the past, Francis has denounced what he calls the “sin of seeking to have children at any cost,” citing examples of women who undergo multiple Caesarean sections to conceive.

He has frequently lamented how the desire for children has led some couples to turn to extreme measures like surrogate mothers or to what he has called “veterinary fertilization,” with eggs and sperm donated outside the marriage bond.

Francis has also likened techniques that manipulate human embryos to produce babies to experimenting “with children in orphanages,” equating it to hurting society’s weakest members who should be protected.

Details from Francis’s Speech Calling for Global Surrogacy Ban

In his speech on Monday, Francis said surrogate motherhood remains banned in Italy yet is legally practiced in some countries. He told the visiting diplomats that “an increasingly number of countries want to introduce it (surrogacy) as legally valid, obliging legislatures to approve laws that often fail to protect the human person.”

According to the pope, surrogate motherhood is based on the “exploitation of women,” especially the most vulnerable, and enables the “child to become a commodity to negotiate and trade.”

Francis said, “It is a deplorable practice in which life and identity of the woman are instrumentalized while children are treated as goods. There are no human rights here, and it cannot be considered progress for humanity.”

He called for a universal ban on the practice, saying the natural bond between parents and children “is being manipulated in every way possible” through technologies and practices that have enabled adoption, gamete donation, surrogate mothers and exploiting minors.

“Behind each of these horizontals is a question that cannot be silenced. Not only legal or bioethical, but also human and theological,” Francis said.

Support for Surrogacy Ban Among Other Countries

While commercial surrogacy is outright banned in some countries, many others have imposed restrictions or partial limitations on the practice in recent years over ethical concerns similar to those expressed by Francis.

Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Portugal are among the countries that prohibit all forms of surrogacy. Countries like New Zealand, the Canadian province of Quebec and some states in Australia allow altruistic surrogacy but ban commercial surrogacy and international surrogacy arrangements.

Other countries like India, Ukraine, Russia and Kenya have emerged as surrogacy hubs with few regulations in place to protect the rights of surrogate mothers and children. Reports of exploitation led Thailand and Nepal to ban international surrogacy outright.

So while surrogacy laws vary greatly around the world, Francis’s call for an absolute ban is not without substantial precedent already in place.

Country Surrogacy Laws
Germany Outright ban
France Outright ban
Italy Outright ban
Spain Outright ban
Portugal Outright ban
New Zealand Altruistic surrogacy only
Canada (Quebec) Ban on commercial surrogacy
Australia Varies by state, some allow altruistic only
India Major hub with few regulations
Ukraine Major hub with few regulations
Russia Major hub with few regulations
Kenya Major hub with few regulations
Thailand Outright ban after exploitation concerns
Nepal Outright ban after exploitation concerns

Likely Next Steps and Future Implications

While Pope Francis does not have any legal authority himself to institute global bans, his stature as head of an estimated 1.3 billion Catholics worldwide lends considerable weight to his moral and ethical pronouncements.

His call is likely to bolster efforts by anti-surrogacy groups seeking tighter restrictions in countries currently considering legal changes like Brazil and Argentina. It may also sway lawmakers in places with limited regulations like Ukraine or Kenya to consider more oversight.

However, significant cultural differences around issues of reproductive rights, women’s rights and religious norms across various regions present substantial barriers to any kind of enforceable universal ban in the near future.

But Francis’s speech indicates further hardening of Catholic doctrine against reproductive technologies under his papacy. It could have implications on issues like abortion, contraception access, IVF and transgender rights coming before increasingly conservative courts and lawmakers, especially in highly Catholic countries across Latin America and Europe.

With Francis now 87 and facing mounting mobility issues, a successor who shares his views could continue prioritizing these matters for years to come. And while sweeping global consensus is unlikely, steady progress by anti-surrogacy advocates toward tighter restrictions country by country now appears far more feasible.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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