They call it “surrogacy”, but they should call it “subrogation,” – explains Elisa Anna Gomez, a “paid substitute mother” who has lived and continues to live the ordeal of her denied – “enslaved,” to put it in her words – motherhood. She has shared her painful testimony during a press conference, which took place yesterday, Tuesday, February 2. The event had been organized by the association ‘‘ProVita Onlus’’ along with Senator Lucio Malan. It took place at the Senate, where the Cirinnà bill and its highly controversial article 5, which allows a partner of a homosexual couple to adopt the child of the other partner, were being discussed. According to the most respected and influential jurists, such a law would become a pass for the regularization of children “procured” abroad through the so-called practice of “surrogate” (which is forbidden in Italy by the law n. 40/2004).
This practice – Gomez and president of ‘‘Pro Life onlus’’ Antonio Brandi said in unison and with moral force and ethical contempt – is immoral, wrong and totally uncivilized, be it “altruistic” and free of charge, or commercial, that is on payment. In the Resolution of 5 April 2011, the European Parliament spoke out against surrogacy too, as part of a larger question concerning violence against women. It asked the Member States to “recognize the serious problem of surrogacy which constitutes an exploitation of women’s body and reproductive organs” (20), pointing out that “women and children are thus subjected to the same forms of exploitation and are considered goods on the international reproduction market”. Hence, it contributes to “increasing children and women trafficking, as well as transnational illegal adoptions” (21). Yet, we invoke Europe only when it is convenient.
In short, surrogacy constitutes a serious violation of men’s, women’s, and children’s rights. It means commercialization of the relationship between parents and children through gestation for third parties, mainly for economic compensation. Due to its objectifying and mercantile nature. As well as because of the dangerous ambiguities in the definition of parenthood, it violates human rights codified in the 1948 International Bill of Human Rights and in the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, which recognizes – among other rights – the right to the truth about his/her origins. In fact, it denies the natural principle which is at the basis of any law, that is, that “mater semper certa est” (“the mother is always certain”).
“The child is a subject, not an object, of rights, (s)he is not an iPhone nor a nice car,” Brandi said. “We all have desires. The desire to have a child is natural. Yet, it is not a right. Not all wishes can be realized. “Especially if they affect the rights of children, which are stated in all international conventions. Surrogacy, for example, “does not appear directly in the Cirinnà bill, but the so called Stepchild Adoption part of the bill makes it possible.”
“Do not deprive children of their rights before they are even born,” – was the heartfelt appeal Anna Elisa Gomez Italians made after having told her dramatic – and risky – story. Risky, yes. Because a judge has imposed a news blackout on her story, after declaring that she was merely a “donor of genetic material”, not the mother. Nonetheless, she was ordered to provide for the little girl whom she had given birth, but whom she cannot see. The woman, in short, is being treated like an “incubator”, a “factory”, or rather, a “life industry”.
The story. That is, the reality of many similar surrogate-surrogating motherhoods, which are not even the worst cases. Elisa lives in Minnesota and is a mother of three. Her husband split and she had to look after the children alone, taking on thousands of jobs. Her eldest daughter, sixteen at the time, shows serious psychological-emotional difficulties due to her father’s abandonment. To treat her and provide for the children, in 2006, she decided to join a forum for the so-called “surrogacy”. In countries where it is allowed, it is a billionaire business of agencies, which, hiding behind the (false) cultural alibi of giving homosexual couples the opportunity to be parents and that love wins over everything, ensuring that the pregnant mother – who is called “carrier” – has no rights. She agrees to give her eggs and give birth for a homosexual couple that “back then seemed to be wonderful,” for 8 thousand dollars and the promise that she could have cultivated a relationship with the child she was going to carry and that (s)he would have been aware of the fact that she was the mother. “Things have changed dramatically as soon as I gave birth,” she reports. “They left the State without telling me anything, although legally the baby was my daughter,” she reconstructs. “From that moment on I felt like a ghost.”
Elisa has developed a trauma similar to that of the veterans. “When I agreed to act as a surrogate mother, I could not have predicted how I would feel after giving birth to the child and when she would have been taken away from me,” says the repentant woman. “I have been treated like a disposable womb”. I can only say that this pain never leaves me, it is a burning wound in all of my muscle fibers and in my heart.” In 2007, she began her legal battle to obtain the recognition of her motherhood and the right to have a relationship with the baby. The first judge allows her to see the baby for four hours/month and asks her to pay the couple $ 600/month. The law has its paradoxes even in US, a country that claims great civility, but which cannot certainly boast a long history of rights evolution. Its democracy is too “young” to declare itself mature enough in terms of logic and rights. The judge imposed silence on her history and even forbade her to use Internet for personal reasons. The second judge makes her undergo eight psychological assessments, all of which result in her favor. Her mental conditions are declared “perfect, although extremely wearied by the pain resulting from the loss of her daughter.” The child is still with the couple, which had “purchased” her and Gomez is still compelled to provide for her. Yet, she can no longer see the baby. For six years now, she has not had any news about her daughter (by nature and moral right) who was two and a half last time she met her. Ever since – the ‘‘contract’’ parents said – the child has been able to sleep only in the car seat, because there she had seen her mother for the last time.
“Surrogacy contracts are practices of slavery” – says without shadow of doubt the repentant surrogate mother. “The bond between mother and child is so strong by nature that any law that allows breaking it is immoral. Surrogacy is immoral,”-she repeats. “The Stepchild Adoption law – in case it is approved – will make surrogacy a painful reality in Italy. That does not give rights to those who do not have any, but takes them away from those who should have them, that is, to the child who deprived of the mother. “It is a strong slap in the face of those who have at least a bit of sensitivity, to the supporters of a law that, in fact, would be an accomplice of the marketplace of lives. According to studies of the University of Aberdeen, five agencies specialized in this “service” on an international level, the turnover deriving from surrogate motherhood has increased by 1,000 percent from 2006 to 2010, especially in low-income countries such as India, Vietnam, and South Africa.
In some countries, not only surrogacy is legally regulated, but the surrogate mother is even constrained to conform to the contract and is punished in case she violates it: in Israel, for example (where women receive a “monthly compensation for pain and suffering” they experienced), in South Australia, New Zealand, and in Greece.