Surrogacy: Controversial Ruling at French Court of Appeals

On November 25, 2019, the Court of Appeals in Rennes, France recognized the filiation on French civil registration for four children born to surrogate women abroad. This decision is equivalent to authorizing surrogacy, even though it is prohibited by French law.

This volte-face in French law was set in motion on October 4th by the Court of Cassation’s ruling for the Mennesson couple, which the judges qualified as exceptional. The Court authorized for the original American birth certificates to be legally accepted in the French civil registry, whereby the “intended mother” or the female sponsor would be recognized as the mother.

The court thus retained this legal precedent for its’ ruling on the four cases in question, one of which involved a gay couple. Thus, in these cases, the mother is no longer considered to be the woman who gives birth to the child.

Although the families’ requests go back several years, the preamble states that this decision was made under the pretext of avoiding an adoption process which would take far too long.

During the bioethics bill discussions, the position of the French Minister of Justice, Nicole Belloubet, appeared diametrically opposed to this when she stated: “the government has no intention of changing the legal status for children born via surrogacy”. Previously, in September Mrs. Belloubet suggested that an inter-ministerial bulletin be drafted on this subject.

Caroline Roux, Alliance VITA’s Assistant General Delegate :

« On the issue of surrogacy, justice is turning a blind eye to protecting the most vulnerable individuals in order to give satisfaction to individual requests. This is very worrisome and disturbing. On November 20, France has just marked the 30th anniversary for signing the International Convention on the Rights of the Child. Ironically our country is undergoing a serious setback for a child’s right to know his parents and be raised by them, as specified in Article 7 of this same Convention. Indeed, the best interest of the child is being completely trampled upon, in favor of the desires expressed by adults. Simultaneously, women are being considered as reproductive objects and their rights are seriously violated, in contradiction to the fundamental principles of inalienability and non-commodification of the human body. The current authorities’ hostile façade is worthless without a strong political commitment demanding for this case law to be annulled and replaced by a clear prohibition of surrogacy in France, including that of importing surrogate children from abroad. This weekend throughout France the “March for the Children” is organized to denounce these growing and serious violations of human rights and warn our fellow citizens of the increasingly urgent implications inherent in the bioethical bill.”

 

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