The Hague Conference on Private International Law is continuing to work on the international regulation of surrogacy. The working group devoted to this “legislative project” is meeting again from 12 to 16 October 2020. The organisation claims to refrain from taking sides for or against the practice, while stating that since the practice exists, its consequences should be regulated in the context of “international surrogacy conventions.”
With this stand, the Hague Conference is de facto acknowledging that surrogacy is acceptable. Moreover, it legitimizes and strengthens the global market producing children through this practice. To argue that the only solution would be to regulate it at the international level is to make people believe that the mere existence of a practice makes it inevitable, that inevitability means acceptable, and that acceptance requires regulation.
This reasoning is insidious and is as weak as it is false. We regulate only because we agree, in substance, with what a practice is. For example, slavery exists, and persists, despite its abolition and prohibition. Nevertheless, no one thinks of regulating it, considering it to be inevitable. The same reasoning applies to trafficking, the sale of children, and violence against women. The death penalty exists, and it is used even in democratic states. Yet no international organisation is acting to regulate it at the international level.
All these practices – slavery, trafficking, the sale of children, violence against women, the death penalty – are considered contrary to human rights. Even though they still exist, no one tries to regulate them. When a social practice is inherently offensive to human rights, it is never regulated to minimize its damage. It is fought and abolished.
Surrogacy undermines the principle of human dignity, which is the foundation of human rights. It is a form of medical, obstetric, symbolic, economic and psychological violence against women. It exploits them and transforms human life into a contractual object.
Unlike what the Hague Conference would have us believe, to respect children’s human rights, they must first be regarded as human beings, and not as objects to be obtained by contract. Human rights for women mean considering them as human beings and not as “gestators.”
Regulating a practice violating human rights leads to weakening these rights. The only way to respect these human rights is to abolish such practices.
We urge States to dare to fight the human market, to dare to refuse the instrumentalization of women – of all women, everywhere in the world.
Political courage is to not give in to the commercial propaganda of the globalised surrogacy industry. Political courage is to act for equality between women and men, and to abolish a patriarchal and reactionary practice.
Marie-Josèphe Devillers, Berta 0’Garcia, Ana-Luana Stoicea Deram
International Coalition for the abolition of surrogacy (ICAMS)