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Putting children first

Italy leads the way in anti-surrogacy efforts

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni talks to reporters at the U.S. Capitol on July 27 during a visit to Washington. Associated Press/Photo by J. Scott Applewhite

Putting children first

Italy is already many steps ahead of the United States when it comes to the morality of surrogate parenting. The practice of paying women to grow and birth one’s baby is illegal in the conservative-run country. But Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni doesn’t think that goes far enough. A new bill in process would criminalize Italian citizens who travel abroad to obtain babies born via foreign surrogates. 

It may sound far-fetched to be prosecuted for something done outside of your own country, but it’s not unheard of. For example, it’s illegal for an American citizen to engage in sex with a minor on a foreign land and they can be prosecuted at home. When it comes to children, we shouldn’t take crime lightly and both of these examples ban practices that are harmful to them specifically. 

Meloni supporter and centrist lawmaker Maurizio Lupi put it best, saying “we strenuously say ‘no’ to the sale of children.” Lupi called surrogacy “the most extreme form of commercialization of the body.” 

In a Western world, where personal autonomy is the highest good and objective morality has been all but erased, people are often blind to universal virtue and objective ethical standards.

To progressives both in the United States and abroad, “consent” is the supreme bodily value, but we must note that surrogacy employment is rife with manipulation tactics backed by wads of cash. The definition of human trafficking is “the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. ” No matter how willingly one consents to the use of her body in this way, $50,000 is coercion to a poor woman every single time. 

The premise of surrogacy is separation, trauma, and deprivation.

Furthermore, the factory production of babies as ordered by anyone who wants them invokes numerous moral and ethical questions. With surrogacy, individuals with enough money can purchase eggs from one woman and a womb from another and grow a child whom they legally take home at the end of the experience—no background checks or child welfare concerns to speak of. There is no world in which this should be legal. 

The Meloni government is not backing down, refusing even now to issue Italian birth certificates to babies born via surrogate overseas, according to The New York Times. The Times reported on one couple affected by this move, their new baby caught in the legal limbo of the law. One of the men profiled noted that “the most important thing … is that he is our son.” 

Though he may love the child, that is not the most important thing here, and it proves the point of anti-surrogate Italian leaders. The most important thing here should be the rights of a child, which those who pursue, promote, and permit surrogacy completely disregard. 

Instead, the couple in this story were determined to have a baby, so they rented a uterus and then ripped that child away from the only home he’d ever known—the body of his physical mother. This surrogate mother, the one whose heartbeat he synced, whose voice he knew, whose smell he found comfort in, was taken from him in an instant so this couple could make their dreams come true. All the while, the men presume that mothers don’t matter. Not biological mothers, not physical mothers, not adoptive mothers. It is not fair or ethical to intentionally create a baby in this fashion, purposely depriving him of his right to both parents. 

Meloni understands the social and psychological imperative of an intact, biological family as a child’s best hope for flourishing. This is not to say that children who are adopted, part of divorce, or born to single mothers are unable to thrive or succeed. When hard things happen, we’re responsible for making the best of a difficult situation—and we do. But the premise of surrogacy is separation, trauma, and deprivation. As humans in a civilized society, our aim should be to protect the most innocent and vulnerable, not create them to inflict damage. 

There’s a reason for-profit surrogacy is banned in Italy, Canada, Denmark, New Zealand, Brazil, Britain, and Australia, among other countries. Is Italy overstepping her bounds by making overseas surrogacy a crime for Italian citizens? I guess it depends on whether you think human dignity ends at the border.

Ericka Andersen

Ericka Andersen is a freelance writer and mother of two living in Indianapolis. She is the author of Leaving Cloud 9 and Reason to Return: Why Women Need the Church & the Church Needs Women. Ericka hosts the Worth Your Time podcast. She has been published in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Christianity Today, USA Today, and more.

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