ROME (ChurchMilitant.com) - Homosexual couples have responded with outrage after Italian parliamentarians closed ranks to make surrogacy a "universal crime" — punishable by law even if couples "rent a womb" abroad.
On Friday, the Justice Committee of the Chamber of Deputies — Italy's lower house of Parliament — voted 22–12 in favor of criminalizing "procreative tourism," banning Italian couples from hiring surrogate mothers "in a foreign country where the same is allowed."
Italy already has a 2004 law punishing anyone who "carries out, organizes or advertises the marketing of gametes or embryos or the subrogation of maternity" with a sentence of "imprisonment from three months to two years and with a fine of 600,000 to 1 million euros."
The law, however, does not prohibit Italian couples from seeking medically assisted procreation in a foreign country (such as Ukraine). Legislators are now seeking to close the regulatory loophole that feeds a global industry worth over $6 billion annually.
Giorgia Meloni, populist leader and head of the Fratelli D'Italia party, is spearheading the campaign to criminalize renting uteruses. She called surrogacy a "third millennium form of slavery, which humiliates women's bodies and turns children into a commodity."
"Babies are not over-the-counter products, and they can't be bought. On adoptions, we also reiterate that, for us, the State must guarantee the right of a child to have a father and a mother," Meloni insisted.
The Justice Committee adopted Meloni's wording for the proposed new law as the pro-life leader urged "all political forces, regardless of the sides and positions," to "share this battle of civilization with us."
The legislation also seeks to punish public officials who record the surrogate child in civil registers, imposing a prison term of 5–15 years for the offense.
The draft for the proposed law notes that "the practices of the subrogation of motherhood constitute an execrable example of the commercialization of the female body and of the very children who are born through such practices, who are treated like commodities."
Catholic associations like Alleanza Cattolica, Family Day, Medici cattolici, Movimento per la Vita, Nonni 2.0, Pro Vita and Steadfast are supporting the bill — along with the Lega Party (headed by populist leader Matteo Salvini) and Silvio Berlusconi's center-right Forza Italia.
But Alessia Crocini, president of Rainbow Families (an association for homosexual parents), attacked the legislation as "the perfect mirror of the Italian right — repressive, liberticidal and fascist."
"It is unthinkable that a practice carried out in sovereign and democratic countries such as the United States and Canada can be prosecuted in Italy, even for foreign citizens. It is clear this would create friction in international relations with Italy," Crocine said in a press release.
While Italian bishops have been reluctant to directly support the bill, Avvenire, the Italian Episcopal Conference newspaper, published a letter from left-wing politician Stefano Fassina putting forth "progressive" arguments for "the universal abolition of surrogacy."
Fassina, an economist who says he is committed to the social doctrine of the Catholic Church under Pope Francis, writes:
Far from being an individual act, a gift, surrogacy is a practice carried out on an industrial scale by companies [profiting from] human reproduction in an organized system of clinics, doctors, lawyers and marketing and brokerage agencies. In this system, women are a means of production. Pregnancy and childbirth become procedures endowed with a utilitarian and exchange value in a globalized market.
Decrying the exploitation of surrogacy in Ukraine, Fassina called the country a "world leader in the export of this product" and noted that Russia's invasion has exposed "the chilling consequences of the commodification of life," with "scores of babies now abandoned in Ukrainian basements."
Ukrainian companies control over 25% of the global surrogacy market. Multiple human rights violations caused India, Thailand and Nepal to slam the doors on foreigners seeking surrogates. A 2020 study in the Journal of Public and International Affairs reveals that same-sex couples represent about 40% of surrogacy clients.
More than 150 women apply to be surrogates every month in Ukraine — and give up all rights related to their pregnancies in most contracts.
According to the study, surrogate mothers reported forced abortions of babies unwanted by clients, financial exploitation, unsafe and oppressive living environments provided by surrogacy agencies, poor health care for birth and pregnancy-related complications and long-term physical and psychological damage from the surrogacy process.
Since the surrogate market brings over $1.5 billion to Ukraine annually, lawmakers have resisted attempts at regulations — leading to abandoned and stateless children (as the children are not Ukrainian).
In 2020, Pope Francis affirmed a "Catholic" homosexual couple who hired a lesbian surrogate to have three children, despite the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith categorically declaring surrogate motherhood to be morally illicit, Church Militant reported.
The CDF document on the "Instruction on Respect for Human Life in its Origin and on the Dignity of Procreation Replies to Certain Questions of the Day" (1987) prohibits artificial insemination, surrogate pregnancy and the intentional deprivation of the conceived child's right to his natural mother and father united in the bonds of holy matrimony, stating:
Surrogate motherhood represents an objective failure to meet the obligations of maternal love, of conjugal fidelity and of responsible motherhood; it offends the dignity and the right of the child to be conceived, carried in the womb, brought into the world and brought up by his own parents; it sets up, to the detriment of families, a division between the physical, psychological and moral elements which constitute those families.
Andrea Rubera and Dario De Gregorio are credited with convincing the pope that homosexuals have a right to a surrogate family. They were "married" in Canada in 2009 and had three children through lesbian surrogate Kerilyn.
The Italian couple arranged for Rubera's sperm to be used to create a daughter, Artemisia. This was followed by De Gregorio's sperm being used to create twins (Chloe and Iacopo).