Italy’s prime minister backs stricter ban on surrogacy: How Europe differs from U.S. on issue — By: Catholic News Agency

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is seen on the set of the TV show “Porta a Porta” at Rai Studios, on April 4, 2024, in Rome, Italy. / Credit: Antonio Masiello/Getty Images

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Apr 16, 2024 / 17:05 pm (CNA).

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is urging Parliament to adopt a stricter prohibition on surrogacy — a practice that has been illegal in the country for two decades and can already result in jail time and financial penalties.

Speaking at a conference in Rome, Meloni called surrogacy “inhuman” and referred to it as “uterus renting.” She encouraged the Italian Senate to pass legislation that would make it a crime for Italians to procure surrogate parenting abroad — a proposal that has already passed the parliament’s lower chamber. Under current law, surrogacy is only illegal when done within the country’s borders.

“No one can convince me that it is an act of freedom to rent one’s womb,” Meloni said at the conference, according to NBC News.

“No one can convince me that it is an act of love to consider children as an over-the-counter product in a supermarket,” Meloni added. “I still consider the practice of uterus renting to be inhuman; I support the proposed law making it a universal crime.”

The messaging against surrogacy promoted by Meloni, who is a Catholic, is in line with the arguments recently made by the Vatican regarding the Church’s opposition to surrogacy. 

In a document published by the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith on April 8, the Vatican body argues that the practice of surrogacy violates both “the dignity of the child” and “the dignity of the woman.”

“The woman is detached from the child growing in her and becomes a mere means subservient to the arbitrary gain or desire of others,” the document reads. “This contrasts in every way with the fundamental dignity of every human being and with each person’s right to be recognized always individually and never as an instrument for another.”

How the United States differs from Europe on surrogacy 

In the United States, both paid and unpaid surrogacy are legal in almost every state. Although the legal specifics vary from state to state, only two states expressly prohibit paid surrogacy: Nebraska and Louisiana. Unpaid surrogacy in those states is still legal in certain cases.

Michigan had prohibited paid surrogacy until earlier this month when Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed legislation to legalize and regulate paid surrogacy. This reversed a 36-year-old prohibition on the practice.

The country’s liberalized approach to surrogacy differs vastly from most European countries, the majority of which either prohibit surrogacy altogether or allow only unpaid surrogacy. 

In Italy, for example, both paid surrogacy and unpaid surrogacy are illegal. Other European countries that ban all forms of surrogacy include Spain, Germany, France, Finland, Norway, Austria, and Switzerland, among others.

Numerous countries in Europe allow unpaid surrogacy in some cases but always prohibit paid surrogacy. This includes the United Kingdom, Portugal, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Greece. 

Only a handful of countries in Europe allow paid surrogacy, such as Ukraine and Russia. A few countries, such as Ireland, do not have specific laws that either prohibit paid surrogacy or permit it.

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