Sunday, January 20, 2019

Surrogacy as viewed from Spain (where it is illegal)

Not late-breaking news, but here are some El Pais reports that reflect the ongoing situation in Spain:

Spain struggles with surrogate pregnancy issue
Practice is illegal here but debate rages over whether surrogacy is a right or a form of exploitation

"The Swiss-based International Social Security Association estimates that every year, surrogate mothers give birth to around 20,000 children worldwide. Agencies and parents estimate that between 800 and 1,000 go on to live with Spanish parents, but there are no official figures. There are numbers, however, for international adoptions undertaken by Spaniards, and these have fallen from 5,541 in 2004 to 799 in 2015.

"Yet if the estimates are correct, international surrogacy has overtaken international adoption in popularity. Instead of the international adoption process, which can take up to eight years, it seems that those wanting to be parents are more frequently opting for the quicker route, and paying between €45,000 and € 60,000 in the Ukraine or Russia or up to €120,000 in California – one of 14 American states where the practice is legal.

"Every country has different legislation. Ukraine, for example, only allows heterosexual couples to use surrogates. In Canada, the United Kingdom and Portugal, surrogacy is only allowed in the altruistic sense, meaning the surrogate mother receives no direct economic benefit. And the latter two countries only let nationals use surrogacy. India, a former worldwide power in surrogacy, has vetoed it for foreign couples, and is on the verge of making it illegal for economic profit. Mexico too, particularly the State of Tabasco, has recently restricted surrogacy laws.
"“The best solution to avoid abuses is to legislate it. It’s like organ transplants – regulating the legal practice gets rid of organ trafficking,” says Pedro Fuentes, president of a pro-surrogacy parental association that brings together around 400 families, Son Nuestros Hijos. Fuentes is a gynecologist and alongside his husband, he is also the father of a six-year-old boy who was born in California to a surrogate mother. He gets emotional when he tells the story of how he met the surrogate mother and the warm relationship they developed. He said that her own ethics also guided the process, as she had decided to use her body as a surrogate to help a gay couple.

"The association itself has a code of ethics and recommends not trusting “agencies that don’t let you meet the mother, which guarantee results, and which offer package deals saying you won’t have to worry about anything.” Also, they suggest that parents work with a woman who has already given birth. The association certainly makes the case for altruism but it is also open to economic compensation.
"The association asks: “When is a women being exploited? When you pay her or when you don’t?”

The dark side of Ukraine’s surrogacy boom
Lack of oversight, lax regulations and a failing economy have made the eastern European country one of the most popular destinations to find a surrogate mother

And here's a story from 2014 with background on the Spanish supreme court's decision not to recognize the child of Spanish parents borne by a California surrogate:
Are you my mother? The Spanish Supreme Court and surrogacy tourism

"The majority of the judges, however, contend that the “best interests” criterion is not the sole factor to be taken into account. Judges should also ponder the State’s interest in preventing the commodification of children and motherhood. But more strikingly, the Supreme Court argues that it is not obvious that it goes in the best interests of the twins to be legally declared as the sons of Ramón and César and not of the surrogate mother. It is striking, in my view, to argue along those lines when the surrogate mother is a woman who has relinquished her motherhood and the intending parents are not only willing to be the parents, but, most importantly, are the “social” fathers."

HT: Stephanie Wang

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