Human rights at stake in Spain

Surrogacy will soon be debated in the Spanish Parliament after Ciudadanos, the Spanish Liberal Party, presented a law proposal to regulate it last June. The project they support only allows altruistic surrogacy, but it has had some criticism.

Any form of it is illegal nowadays, as in most western countries, except in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands, where it is legal only when it is altruistic. Some states in the United States allow both commercial and altruistic surrogacy as do many countries in Asia and in Eastern Europe.

The rest of the big parties are not clear about it. Left-wing Podemos has argued that it needs to have a debate within the party, while the socialists from PSOE reject any use of it. Even the People’s party, which is the party that has the most in common with the liberals, hasn’t taken sides on this particular topic.

The conservative element in the People’s Party said it was against any form of commercialization of women’s wombs. But there is no unanimity in the party as the more progressive sector, headed by Javier Maroto, a well-known gay politician in the party, is in favor of altruistic surrogacy. Surrogacy is the only way gay men can have biological children.

For this reason, Albert Rivera, leader of Ciudadanos, asked the rest of the big parties to allow their MPs to vote according to their own criteria and not that of the party as it is usual. Failing to do so, the “rebellious” MPs could face sanctions.

The proposal has many critics. It only regulates altruistic surrogacy but many argue that this is the gateway to commercialization and that many times it involves hidden payments.

The party claims that if it is not regulated, couples and individuals, will do it elsewhere. But Dr. Renate Klein, a retired Swiss biologist, expert on feminist studies and author of the book Surrogacy: a Human Rights Violation believes that countries should take a harder stance on the issue: “For instance, Switzerland does not accept surrogacy and does not accept babies being brought back from other countries.” She thinks this would discourage families from taking advantage of poorer people abroad.

Klein argues that there are many risks involved with the procedure that the general public does not know about. There are many drugs that egg donors must take. One of them is Lupron, which has been linked to breast and ovarian cancer.

The whole industry is surrounded by lack of information and transparency, says Klein. “There has never been any systematic research of the health problems that the medications used to cause.”  On top of that, she states that the number of drugs used has changed continuously.

She also warns against the industry: “Surrogacy is a multi-billion [euro] business involving lots of countries and IVF (in vitro fertilization) clinics, it is not about niceness and infertile couples, it’s about making money.”

Many opponents believe it has a lot to do with class and race as many westerners visit third world countries to surrogate babies cheaper. Klein says she will believe it is altruistic when she sees a white CEO of a company give birth to the child of her dark-skinned cleaner.

The outcome of the proposal could mean a remarkable victory for a growing minority of countries in the EU that support surrogacy or a small defeat if the prohibition stayed.

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