A coalition of women’s human rights organisations has petitioned the UN and world leaders calling for a ban on surrogacy (womb rental). The petition also exhorts governments to withdraw funding support to UN agencies that support surrogacy. More than 250 women’s human rights organisations from 18 different countries have signed the petition.
In the statement delivered to the office of the President of the United Nations’ General Assembly, the feminists accuse the “womb rental industry” of using “the same tactics as human trafficking networks” and surrogacy contracts to force women to give up all of their rights. The signatories maintain that “altruistic” surrogacy is nothing but a fantasy.
This petition was filed shortly after the publication of a report  by the UN human rights office which, instead of demanding a ban on altruistic and commercial surrogacy, called for international regulation in both cases. And instead of asking countries to “respect the rights of the child to know his/her mother and father and to be looked after by them”, it is limited to “the simple right to know one’s biological parentage”.
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) also adopts an “ambiguous approach”: it doesn’t make an official statement on surrogacy but defines medically assisted reproduction as one of the “reproductive and sexual health services” and therefore a universal entitlement since it stems from “the right to benefit from scientific progress”… According to a report on UNFPA activity in China, it would appear that the agency has openly advocated surrogacy there at least since 2014.
Surprisingly, in terms of the organisations that have signed the petition, the majority are based in Europe and Latin America with only two from the United States. Daniella Bandelli, a sociologist who has conducted research into surrogacy, explains that, in fact, there is far less reluctance towards surrogacy in the US than in Europe, for instance. She believes that, in the United States, “where a liberal approach and personal autonomy are dominant social norms”, there is little interest in the ‘commodity’ argument put forward by feminists. On the contrary, she claims that more information “on the wider psychological, social, economic and health consequences of surrogacy [could] have a wider resonance”.
For further reading:
C-Fam (Center For Family & Human Rights), Stefano Gennarini (26/10/2018)