Surrogacy: France to Allow Civil Registration A for Children Born Abroad

On December 18, 2019 the Court of Cassation ruled that children born abroad from surrogacy or ART from third-party donors may now have their foreign birth certificates recorded on French civil registry.

The courts’ rulings regarded two women who had ART performed with a third-party donor in England, and two men, and a male-female couple who employed surrogate mothers in the United States.

The birth certificates issued in the United States and England designate the applicants as the child’s parents. The applicants thus petitioned the Court of Cassation which finally ruled to accept the recording of the birth certificates on the French civil registry as well.

The Court ruled that since the birth certificates respect the laws of the countries where they were issued, they should be registered in the same way in France. Until now, France had rightly voiced its’ opposition to this transcription, since surrogacy is illegal.

In fact, the Court’s decision is consistent with it’s decision regarding the Mennesson case, when it allowed the transcription in the French civil registry of the original American birth certificates of the surrogate twins. At the time, the judges qualified the decision for the Mennesson twins as exceptional.

Nevertheless, on November 25th the court reiterated the same ruling on four additional cases of surrogacy.

Whatever the reasons behind this volte-face in French law and its’ ripple effect, the consequence is that attacks on the rights of children and women are no longer punished. On April 10, 2019 at the behest of the Court of Cassation, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) issued the following recommendation: “States are not required to make a full transcription of the birth certificate for a surrogate child born abroad in order to establish filiation with the so-called ‘intended’ mother, since adoption is also a way to acknowledge the filiation”. Recently, on December 12, 2019 the ECHR pointed out the fact that French courts have the right to refuse full transcriptions of foreign birth certificates on its’ civil registry for surrogacy cases.

Caroline Roux, Alliance VITA’s Assistant General Delegate :

 With these rulings, the Court of Cassation is defeating the purpose of the law. By supporting surrogacy, French justice is capitulating to individual requests instead of protecting the most vulnerable. The child’s best interest is being seriously ignored and women’s rights are being attacked in an unprecedented way, just for the sake of fulfilling the desires of a few adults. In January, when the bioethics bill is examined, we urge our senators to resolutely reaffirm the ban on surrogacy. We call on them to be consistent with this decision and that includes to refuse the transcription of birth certificates on the French civil registry for surrogate children born abroad since surrogacy is illegal in our country.”

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