Joanna Alphonso:

Experts from around the world gathered in Rome’s LUMSA University (Libera Universita Maria SS. Assunta—a private Catholic university) April 5-6, 2024, to discuss the issues surrounding surrogacy.

This major discussion started on March 3, 2023 with the Casablanca Declaration. More than 100 experts gathered from 75 countries in Casablanca, Morocco, to form a document calling for a global abolishment of surrogacy.

Olivia Maurel, a spokesman for the declaration was born via surrogacy, and is now a 33-year-old mother of three children. Her testimony highlights trauma from abandonment as a result of being intentionally torn away from her birth mother.

“There is no right to have a child, but children do have rights,” Maurel said at the LUMSA conference. “And we can say surrogacy violates many of these rights.” To her, and others who advocate against surrogacy, it is fundamentally different from adoption because surrogacy intentionally creates a child for the purpose of separating him or her from the birth mother.

Pope Francis shared his understanding with Maurel that pregnancy brings about a deep biological bond between mother and child. The transfer of stem cells between mother and the baby she carries is an example of this. Maurel shared in an Instagram post, “I am an atheist and feminist, but Pope Francis decided to hear me out on the dangers of surrogacy. We both agreed on the fact that this was a global market of women and children.”

ordinator of the declaration, sought the voice of Pope Francis as a commentator on the struggles of humanity and culture, rather than as a religious voice.

The conference was met with protest on the streets organized by Rainbow Families, a gay family advocacy group. About 200 participants took to the street, mostly gay couples who traveled abroad to have their children via surrogate.

According to a news article at the CBC, surrogacy in Canada has increased 400 per cent over the last 10 years with an increased trend in couples delaying pregnancy, resulting in infertility problems, as well as homosexual couples who want to become parents. In Canada, sperm and egg donorship is legal for the purpose of generating one’s own biological children without ever having a sexual partner. Surrogacy costs about $90,000. Current Ontario law that allows for parental leave (formerly maternity or paternity leave) now includes leave for the birth of their surrogate children.

Popularized by celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Neil Patrick Harris, John Legend and Chrissy Teigan, and more recently Paris Hilton, this industry is fueled by growing cases of infertility and increasing numbers of homosexual couples looking to have biological children.

Surrogacy continues to be a booming industry, expected to grow to a value of US$129 billion by 2032 according to Forbes magazine.