France: the Defender of Rights in favor of Surrogacy

On November 17, 2016 the French Defender of Rights, Jacques Toubon made a statement « for France to recognize filiation for the intended parent” meaning to give official recognition as “parent” to individuals who used surrogacy abroad to have a child.

Jacques Toubon made this statement during a “scientific symposium” considered highly controversial due to the lack of diversity for the speakers and to the absence of questioning about surrogacy practises. Currently surrogacy is banned in France, although some couples or individuals have gone abroad to circumvent the law.

But the “Taubira directive”, as well as recent case law has resulted in facilitating the recognition of French civil status for the sponsoring biological parent. Since July 2015 and after the Court of Cassation’s decision, a child born abroad to a surrogate mother is entitled to French civil registration.

The Defender of Rights does not make it a secret that he wants filiation of the intended parent(s) to be recognized. In his opinion “This will most assuredly be the next issue filed at the court of Cassation and the European Court of Human Rights”.

Ultimately, the end result would be to register on the child’s birth certificate any individual who had recourse to a surrogate mother as being the parent whether they are single, heterosexual or homosexual couples, etc without requiring any biological relationship whatsoever.

Mr. Toubon’s statement comes as a follow-up to a series of talks on the same topic.

In October 2014, only a few days after Manuel Valls’ declaration, which ultimately fell on deaf ears, Jacque Toubon contradicted him: “We think, representing the Defender of Rights, it is indeed the government’s responsibility to recognize parent-child relationships by allowing civil registration in France”.  

Indeed, in July 2015, during the trial at the court of Cassation, he spontaneously intervened during the first instance. Via his attorney, Barrister Spinosi, he pleaded in favor of granting filiation on French civil registration of the children. During the audience, the Defender of Rights’ lawyer went so far as declaring “that there is no maternal relationship between the child and the woman who bore the child…”

Having a conflict of interest with his lawyer did nothing to dissuade Mr. Toubon from appealing for his help. Indeed, M. Spinosi is also the lawyer of Mr. and Mrs. Mennesson, who obtained a conviction for France in June 2014 from the European Court of Human Rights. He is also the legal representative for the activist association “CLARA” (the committee for legalizing surrogacy in someone’s place, and for assisted reproduction), and in this role, he intervened for them before the Council of State.

Caroline Roux, Alliance VITA’s crisis center coordinator, specialized in maternity and pregnancy issues, and involved in the international coordination for No Maternity Traffic states:

It is astounding that Mr. Toubon parodies his function to the point of becoming an “Anti-Defender” of rights by scorning women and children’s rights. We must bear in mind that surrogacy is a transgression: children are just objects in a contract; women’s bodies are commodified, as if they were incubators, and children are deliberately separated from their birth mothers. If surrogacy is illegal in France, it is because it raises serious ethical questions. How can we pretend to forbid a practice, and at the same time validate the resulting effects of such a practise?”


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