Controversial report to support legalisation of surrogacy in Europe


With a range of inconsistent statutes amongst member states, surrogacy is becoming a political football in Europe. Accusations of conflict of interest are being raised in the lead-up to a debate next week in a committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

(Non-Europeans will have to concentrate very hard to track the Byzantine layers of bureaucratic acronyms. Sorry.)

On March 15, in Paris, the Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development Committee of PACE will consider a draft report on “human rights and ethical issues related to surrogacy” and probably vote on a draft resolution and recommendations.

The report has been written by a Belgian member of the European Parliament, Dr Petra de Sutter, who made fact-finding visits to the UK and the Ukraine last year. If the report is adopted, it will be debated by the 324-member plenary Assembly, which brings together parliamentarians from all 47 member States of the Council of Europe.

Dr de Sutter is a controversial choice as a rapporteur. She is a member of the Belgian Greens and head of the Department of Reproductive Medicine at Ghent University Hospital. She is a partner with an Indian surrogacy clinic, Seeds of Innocence. The clinic boasts that she had made its service “unique” in a highly competitive market for international patients.

She is also an openly transgender politician. Her autobiography (Over)leven: Mijn strijd als transvrouw, arts en politica ((Over) life: My struggle as a trans woman, doctor and politician) was only published a few weeks ago.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.