In France, surrogacy is prohibited. Although over half of the French favor legalization and almost two thirds have a positive image of gestational surrogates (women who carry other women's embryos), France's political leadership attempts to distract its public from economic malaise by demonizing surrogacy. The latest missive comes from Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who argued a few days ago that "France is opposed to surrogacy because she is opposed, in the name of her values, in the name of progress and humanism, to all forms of commercialization of human beings and experimentation in this area." Surrogates are "slaves" with wombs for rent, they argue, exploited by the infertile. France's leadership hides the many happy U.S. surrogacy stories, featuring instead some of Asia's forced baby factories that ensnare poor women.
Children of surrogacy who are born in the U.S. attain U.S. citizenship but not that of their intended French parents. France insists that children conceived in this way should not be recognized as French because of how they came into life. However, in June 2014, a brave decision by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ordered France to reverse course and recognize children born of surrogacy despite the French ban.
"Liberté, égalité, faternité" seem to be values in short supply for Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who proposes to class children by their parents' conception decisions. A patent violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and many other international commitments, France's official policy turns it into a national orphanage, putting these children in an almost stateless limbo without the citizenship of their parents who raise them, and without any legal status in their French home. In light of this deliberate cruelty, one might ask whether France's human-rights commitments are in fact empty promises.
In the wake of the ECHR ruling, France must balance banning surrogacy while recognizing the children born of it. Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius arrogantly proposes to demand that other countries ban surrogacy for intentional parents who happen to be French. For the U.S. this is particularly inconceivable given that the federal government has no power over such state-based rules. As if Fabius could persuade President Obama to accommodate France's bizarre stance on this "slavery" and force 45 U.S. states to bend to France's will. France's leaders must stop playing political games with children's lives and reverse their vindictive policy.
Alexandre Urwicz is President of ADFH, the leading French LGBT parents' group. Reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Darren Rosenblum is a visiting professor at the Washington College of Law at American University. Reach him by email at email@example.com.