ART and Surrogacy Debate: Tugdual Derville on Sud Radio

On January 23, 2018, Tugdual Derville was invited as a guest speaker on France’s “Sud Radio” station, by Philippe David, to debate opposite Martine Segalen, ethnologist and sociologist, and Pascal Neveu, psychoanalyst, for the “Speak Out” broadcast, to discuss Artificial Reproductive Technology (ART) and surrogacy just as the  French National Consultations on Bioethics  have just opened. Quotes Extracted from the Broadcast; Tugdual Derville: [Regarding the survey published in La Croix on January 3, 2018, on “The French and Bioethics”]: French people are generous, and compassionate. When asked if they are in favor of a certain right, they answer yes. When the same individuals are asked whether a child born by ART is entitled to have a father and a mother (Opinionway survey in September 2017), 72% also answered Yes. They are lost because they don’t have any grass root experience on these subjects. [ART] is an extremely deeply-felt claim, related to a strong desire for a child; to the point that one’s consciousness is paralyzed. Our society prides itself on having laws for women and children that protect the weak from the strong. Alliance Vita has just launched a petition to the French President, to demand that children be protected against the huge, globalized or state-controlled reproductive market. France must continue to resist against the commodification of the human body; I do not sell my blood, my kidney, even my gametes, in contrast to what happens abroad (for example with the growth of oocyte sales in Spain, faced with increasing poverty, although it is a heavy surgical operation, which can put women at risk). Being aware of the [in utero] exchanges and communication that take place for 9 months between a mother and her child, how can she not be affected by her pregnancy [and her baby]? How can she tell her own children: this one, we’re going to give it away? We don’t give away a baby; a baby is not an object; he is a person to be unconditionally welcomed. Surrogacy can never by altruistic; it is being pressured and forced by conditioning. Our civil society supports families in difficulty, single-parent families, and orphans: we must recognize their suffering and help them. But it is another thing to deliberately create from scratch the suffering of this separation, to eliminate half of someone’s biological heritage, thus creating very complicated legal imbroglios. The result is a reproductive process which is broken up between donors, genitors, educational parents … such a number of  parents. Regarding ART, I took out this poster published by Act Up: “I want sperm, not a guy.” As a man, I don’t feel respected by this type of poster; we cannot reduce men or fatherhood to spermatozoids which could be handed out (…) This is how the ART claims for women is presented today; instead of welcoming paternity, especially when our society is already suffering enormously from being cut-off from fathers, we are deliberately conceiving children cut off from their fathers. Some prohibitions cannot have exceptions to the rule; otherwise the rule is ruined. The desire to have a child, to transmit and extend one’s own life, is one of humanity’s most beautiful and strong desires. These desires should be heard and respected. Nevertheless, the law exists to regulate the desires of the strongest in order to protect the weak. This is where the question arises. Is it legitimate for a child to be deprived of a father or a mother, in response to one’s personal desire? Not in our opinion, since parity in reproduction is a principle of human ecology. Genetically, we all come from a father and a mother; it is one of the fundamentals of our identity as men and women. If we decide to bypass this rule, (and this is going further than the requests from homosexuals), if we determine that we can have a baby just by asking for sperm, how will the nation organize this? By establishing sperm banks? By calling for “civic masturbation” for men to give women their sperm? And what about the result? A national marketplace, as predicted by Orwell. The nation would control the sperm banks, and instead of making babies under the duvet, as most needed, a national reproductive market would be created! We at least need to respect the parity between men and women for reproduction. This is the red line which must not be crossed, otherwise reproduction will be a big market; this is a very high risk for humanity. There are special values in France as the country of the Human Rights that recognizes human dignity. France knows how to fight against prostitution. This is what we are asking President Macron: to guarantee that the child is at the heart of his political policy. In the United States, there is a second-hand market for adopted children; if the parents are not pleased with their adopted child, they can post it on the internet to “pass along” the child … This is absolutely incredible! In France, it’s different. Surrogacy creates a pre-planned rupture which is unfair and unscrupulous, no matter the conditions or the presumed legal frame. A child needs maternity to be unified, and not have motherhood split between several women. It is a serious attack on a child to separate him from his mother at birth. He wants to suck his mother’s breast; he needs the smell of his mother: what about breastfeeding, skin to skin (sometimes practiced with sponsors)? Motherhood is a continuum; a child is born in an ecosystem with very strong communicative interactions. This separation is incredibly aggressive. This is absolutely unfair for the child. Be careful, because even love can hold someone hostage; we can love a child very much, take care of him very well, but if that child doesn’t have the right to protest against injustice, then he is being discriminated against and subjected to oppression. I am anxious to hear of the voice of these children, who have been deliberately deprived of their father or mother, when they are teenagers.]]>

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