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ECHR rules against surrogacy in landmark case

25 January 2017


Judge Dedov: "The facts of this case clearly demonstrate how easily human trafficking might be formally represented as (and covered by) a surrogacy arrangement." 

In a ruling that will have major implications for family law across Europe, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled against surrogacy, reports Alliance Defending Freedom.

The case, Paradiso and Campaneli v Italy, involved an Italian man and woman who entered into a commercial surrogacy arrangement with a woman in Russia for the purchase of a child conceived through IVF. The child, who had no biological relationship to the couple, was taken to Italy, where they attempted to have them registered as their own child. The Italian authorities charged the couple with "misrepresentation of civil status" regarding the parentage of the child.

In January 2015, the Second Section of the Strasbourg Court ruled that the Italian authorities had violated Article 8 of the convention (right to private and family life) by refusing to register the couple as the child's parents and thereby depriving him of certainty regarding citizenship and identity. However, on 24 Jan 2017, the Grand Chamber of the Court overturned the ruling, saying that "[t]he right to respect for 'family life' does not safeguard the mere desire to found a family."

"Surrogacy dangerous for the well-being of society"

In his Concurring Opinion, Judge Dedov said, "[H]uman trafficking goes hand in hand with surrogacy arrangements. The facts of this case clearly demonstrate how easily human trafficking might be formally represented as (and covered by) a surrogacy arrangement. However, the phenomenon of surrogacy is itself quite dangerous for the well-being of society. I refer not to the commercialisation of surrogacy, but to any kind of surrogacy."

Exploits women and children

Anthony McCarthy of SPUC commented: "It is very good news that a court has clearly stood up against attempts further exploit women and children through surrogacy arrangements. In this case we have a commissioning couple assuming control over a child with whom they have no biological connection, either genetically or gestationally. That pregnancy and parental bonds can be overridden by a commercial arrangement that would calculatedly deprive a child of its birth mother, and here of both genetic parents, tells us much about our society. It is good that the interests of the powerless and vulnerable have, by this judgement, been protected against the desires of those richer and more powerful who would override the claims of motherhood, the dignity of the body and the rights of families."

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Comments (1)
  • ANN FARMER

    26 January 2017, 10:13pm

    We rightly insist on the highest standards from would-be adopters (or at least we used to) because we recognise that the needs of the child should come first, but the only standard applied to those wanting to purchase a child is the state of their wallets. Surrogacy is simply slavery in a new guise.

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