Reduction of the law on the prohibition of surrogacy: the business on children and women

Recent court decisions raise concerns about the loosening of the law on the prohibition of surrogacy. In the end, a person will lose dignity, there will only be a price tag.

Author: Eva Maria Bachinger

The ban on surrogacy in Austria only exists on paper. Decision of the regional court of the Federal State of Tyrol that have recently entered into force makes it clear that the current legal system cannot protect people from the fact that this ban can be circumvented. The court recognized the woman who did not bear a child and did not have any genetic relationship with him as a legitimate mother, without an appropriate adoption process.

The role of the fundamental principle of “Mater semper certa est” (translation from Latin: Mother is always known) – that is to say the mother who carried a child – is reduced to zero. The role of a woman who has been closely connected with the child for 9 months comes down to an incubator and a depreciation of the personality.

The media report that allegedly in this way the rights of infertile parents who want to have children will be strengthened. It was also cynically noted that Ukrainian reproductive medicine clinics that provide surrogacy services are supposedly “commercially successful”.

First: in this way the rights of children, not parents, will be strengthened, since each child clearly has the right to belong to two parents. Secondly: the mention that supposedly clinics of this type are commercially successful is puzzling. Today the fact that everything is sold and bought – even children – is obvious. Ukraine is known for practicing commercial surrogacy. At that, this activity is supported by cases confirmed by the media and the authorities over time.

And the private Ukrainian clinic BioTexCom even invites couples to an information event, to be held in early February in one of the hotels in Vienna. Topics of the event: egg donation and surrogacy and embryo donation, which are banned in Austria. The hotel was not been informed about the topics of the upcoming event. Egg donation is allowed in Austria since 2015, but with a clear ban on advertising and marketing. The Head of Government of Vienna has received an application which is currently being verified. Better than nothing.

However, Austrian lawyers appear in the media who identify themselves as guardians of human rights and consult couples on how, despite the ban, they can give birth to a child through surrogacy abroad, legally take him back to Austria and become legal parents. Fertility specialists also appear on TV screens claiming that there are no health risks for a surrogate mother and only women with cancer or those who have no uterus could use the services of a surrogate mother. These information distributors are not appropriate independent experts: on the one hand, they are experts, but on the other hand, in the role of doctors, they behave like businessmen in private clinics of reproductive medicine, to which the underestimated importance of the problem and the liberalization established by law would bring even more benefits than before.

Decisive question: Cui bono? (translation from Latin: Who will benefit from this?). Who benefits?

Without a doubt it is childless couples who see surrogacy as their last opportunity to have a baby. The moment when the child has no genetic relationship with both parents is omitted, because in many cases an egg donor is involved. In addition, there are many other studies that prove that a pregnant woman has an epigenetic effect on a child.

Does the surrogate mother benefit? In Ukraine, surrogate mothers receive from 8,000 to 10,000 euros. This is a large amount for a country in which the average income is 330 euros excluding taxes. But in Ukraine and Russia, there are entrepreneurial clinics with particularly disgusting methods: their commercial offers which cost 60,000 euros and a “100% guarantee of having a baby” mean that surrogate mothers or egg donors change like on an assembly line until a pregnancy is successful and a baby is born. And surrogate mothers who have failed remain empty-handed financially.

Genetic tests like preimplantation diagnosis with sex selection, prenatal studies that can lead to an abortion and also cesarean section are the default options in surrogate contracts, where the rights of pregnant women for self-determination are completely leveled. It goes without saying that the surrogate mother receives most of the amount stipulated in the contract only after the “delivery” of a healthy baby. All the knowledge and facts about the intrauterine connection are ignored, its breakdown after childbirth is planned, and you have to put up with this in the most vulnerable phase of a person’s life.

There is a difference in social status: Surrogate mothers are mostly from poor countries. Thus, social need is exploited – there is nothing new for the turbo-capitalist system, which shifts all possible business, services and even environmental damage to poorer countries.

In the end, the ones who really benefit are clinics and law firms who assign the largest part of the proposed amounts.

Surrogacy is prohibited for good reasons: the existing practice is contrary to the dignity of a child and a woman. The female body is subject to commercialization and the child becomes a product. The Convention on the Rights of the Child and the additional protocol state that the child shall not be sold for money and it does not matter for what purpose.

In addition, he has the right to know about his origin. But since there are no national or international databases, young people are forced to go to private clinics, which in many cases do not want to cooperate and refuse access to data on surrogate mothers or sex cell donors. All countries in the world, except the United States, have recognized this right. And Ukraine should adhere to this and suppress the “sale of children”, but this is not the case.

There is an ethical standard that a person is not a commodity. All liberal supporters of surrogacy should remember this, even if they constantly call for sober pragmatism: this is the reality, therefore it is better to regulate these methods than to prohibit them. A difficult experience: if we allow everything that happens in reality, we can make slavery possible.

It goes without saying that social practice can only be an opportunity to critically consider ethical standards, but you must have a lot of courage and adhere to the position that, in our commercialized era, it is no longer a problem if a person has no dignity, but just a price.

The new turquoise-green government of Austria has announced to our great joy that it will continue to stand on the position of maintaining the ban of surrogacy. As part of this program, the government promises to take action against commercialization and, finally, to create state registers of egg and sperm donors. In view of the underestimation of the importance of trends, further explanation is also needed on what actually surrogacy means. The government should also formulate an explicit ban on the basis of the danger of exploitation and trafficking of children and support the international ban on surrogacy and anonymous sex cell donors.