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Pope Francis Calls Surrogacy 'Deplorable,' 'Exploitation'

‘A child is always a gift and never the basis of a commercial contract,’ said the head of the Church

Pope Francis Calls Surrogacy 'Deplorable,' 'Exploitation'

The head of the Catholic Church strongly denounced surrogacy while addressing ambassadors at the Vatican.

Pope Francis has asked the international community to prohibit the practice of surrogacy “universally.” Surrogacy and its ethical implications have been hotly debated in recent years as the practice has become more mainstream.

“The path to peace calls for respect for life, for every human life, starting with the life of the unborn child in the mother’s womb, which cannot be suppressed or turned into an object of trafficking,” Pope Francis said during his Jan. 8 remarks, per the Catholic News Agency.

“In this regard, I deem deplorable the practice of so-called surrogate motherhood, which represents a grave violation of the dignity of the woman and the child, based on the exploitation of situations of the mother’s material need,” he continued. “A child is always a gift and never the basis of a commercial contract.”

“At every moment of its existence, human life must be preserved and defended; yes I note with regret, especially in the West, the continued spread of a culture of death, which in the name of false compassion discards children, the elderly and the sick,” said Pope Francis.

The term surrogacy can include both traditional surrogacy – wherein a woman carries a baby created from her own biological eggs and donor sperm for another person or couple – as well as gestational surrogacy – where a woman carries a child conceived with another woman’s eggs. 

Several countries, including Italy, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Portugal, Taiwan and Spain, have already outlawed all forms of surrogacy. Commercial surrogacy is banned in Canada, Denmark, New Zealand, Brazil, Britain and Australia, but there are exceptions for altruistic surrogacy where the surrogate mother is not financially compensated for her services. 

Ukraine was considered an “international surrogacy hub” until Russia’s invasion in 2022. According to Reuters, thousands of children were born in Ukraine via surrogate mothers and “many of them [were] taken abroad by foreigners.”

Surrogacy is permitted in Russia but the practice is controversial. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law barring foreigners from using Russian surrogate mothers in December 2022. 

Surrogacy is not federally regulated in the United States. The majority of states permit all or most forms of surrogacy or otherwise do not have any legal restrictions in place.

Tennessee, Virginia, Arizona, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, and Nebraska are the only states with minor or serious restrictions on the practice and related contracts, per Creative Family Connections

In March, research firm Global Market Insights estimated that the global surrogacy market had an estimated value of nearly $18 billion – more than twice its value in 2018. Furthermore, the company estimated that the global surrogacy industry is expected to surpass $129 billion due to an increase in infertility and a growing demand among same-sex couples. 

That demand is driven primarily by so-called intended parents in wealthy, Western nations,” noted CNBC. “Many of these are seeking cross-border surrogacy services to avoid long waiting lists or higher fees at home, or because domestic laws forbid surrogacy or exclude particular groups — such as gay couples — from the practice. The end of Covid-19 travel bans also led to an increase in global surrogacy demand last year.”

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