French Luminaries’ Open Letter on Surrogacy
Sixty French personalities, including prominent politicians of the left and center-left, senior scholars and mainstream feminists, have signed an open letter urging President François Hollande to affirm his opposition to surrogacy contracts and to reinforce the country’s legal prohibition against them. The letter, published on July 14 in Libération and posted as a petition on Avaaz.org, was a response to last month’s European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruling that France must grant children born abroad via contract pregnancy arrangements official recognition of their parentage.
The European Court ruled in late June on cases brought by two French families whose children were conceived with their fathers’ sperm and third-party eggs, and carried and delivered by surrogates in California and in Minnesota. The children have been living with the parents in France, but without legal recognition of their parental status.
Signers of the petition include the former President of the European Commission Jacques Delors, former Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, former Minister of Women's Rights Yvette Roudy, and former head of the French Communist Party Marie-George Buffet.
The letter reminds President Hollande of his commitment against surrogacy contracts, known in French as GPA (gestation pour autrui), and asks him to "fight against the soliciting of French clients by surrogacy agencies.” It characterizes surrogacy contracts as “contrary to the principle of respect for the person, both the woman who carries the child [and] the child who is commissioned.” And it highlights the difficult situation created for France by the ECHR ruling, which in effect offers affluent French citizens a way around their own country’s laws. If the ECHR decision is accepted, the letter says, there will “effectively be a market in babies” in France, though only some will be able to afford it:
Mr. President, how will you explain to French women and French men that if they have money, they can go buy a baby abroad and register him or her as their son or daughter with French civil status, while if they are not wealthy enough, they will be subject to the ban that would remain applicable to surrogacy contracts made in France?
The letter does recognize that the legal status of children born as a result surrogacy arrangements abroad should be addressed:
It is conceivable to find technical solutions to improve the legal situation of children living on French soil without succumbing to what is a triumph of the child-making industry, and without costing them the status of human being by recognizing the surrogacy contracts that designated the child as a thing.
The letter has been covered by French newspapers across the political spectrum (Libération, Le Monde, Le Figaro, Valeurs Actuelles) but has apparently not reported in English language publications; an unofficial translation is here.