“Ethical” surrogacy is impossible (Muriel Fabre-Magnan)

Publié le : 10 May 2013

 Muriel Fabre-Magnan, a Professor in law at University Paris-I, has given an interview with the weekly Figaro Magazine on the subject of surrogacy, coinciding with the publication of her book on the subject, in which she exposes “the legal contradictions of the eventual legalisation of this practice in France.”          

She points out that “if artificial insemination is allowed to female couples, it will be very difficult in the medium term to refuse to allow male couples to have recourse (…) to surrogacy.” She adds that “the proposal of (…) an ‘ethical’ surrogacy as advocated for example by Elisabeth Badinter is in reality juridically impossible.” She believes that this proposal will lead to “insurmountable contradictions.” She explains: “if we allow surrogacy in France, even if it is strictly controlled (…), it will no longer be possible to say that it is contrary to our fundamental values. We will no longer have any means of preventing the validation of births through surrogacy practised abroad in all kinds of conditions. We should not fool ourselves: it is very often impossible to verify the conditions in which surrogacy takes place abroad. How to know if the surrogate mother is not being paid? How to be sure that she has not been exploited?”           .
Muriel Fabre-Magnan also voices her fears about the consequences of the eventual legalisation of surrogacy in France. While “the media (…) tell us (…) nice stories of generous and altruistic surrogate mothers delighted to bring happiness to childless couples,” she believes that “the admission of surrogacy will give rise to quite different stories: cases where the different protagonists fight over the child, other cases where nobody wants the child any more because it is disabled, and cases in which the intended parents demand that the surrogate mother has an abortion and she refuses (or the reverse), etc.”         
What “all these so-called ethical debates” reveal; according to Muriel Fabre-Magnan, is “the evolution of society towards a generalized commoditisation of the human body.” She adds that “surrogacy constitutes (…) an enormously significant change because it requires us to admit that we can order a child like we order a product and that a woman can hire out her womb like the way we hire a machine.”. She emphasised that the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights is particularly revelatory of this “commoditisation ideology in which consent is the principal criterion of the legitimacy of actions.” This jurisdiction promotes in fact “‘a right to personal autonomy’ (…) which in reality has the consequence of establishing the right to put another person at one’s disposal.”

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