‘Despicable’: Pope calls for universal ban on surrogacy

Pope Francis denounced the 'commercialisation' of pregnancy.

Pope Francis denounced the 'commercialisation' of pregnancy. Photo: Vatican pool via Getty

Pope Francis has called for a universal ban on what he calls the “despicable” practice of surrogate motherhood.

The Pope included the “commercialisation” of pregnancy in an annual speech listing threats to global peace and human dignity.

In a foreign policy address on Monday to ambassadors accredited to the Holy See, Francis lamented that 2024 had dawned at a time in which peace is “increasingly threatened, weakened and in some part lost.”

Citing Russia’s war in Ukraine, the Israel-Hamas war, the issue of migration, climate crises and the “immoral” production of nuclear and conventional weapons, Francis delivered a list of the ills afflicting humanity and the increasing violation of international humanitarian law that allows them.

But Francis also listed smaller-scale issues that he said were threats to peace and human dignity, including surrogacy. He said the life of the unborn child must be protected and not “suppressed or turned into an object of trafficking”.

“I consider despicable the practice of so-called surrogate motherhood, which represents a grave violation of the dignity of the woman and the child, based on the exploitation of situations of the mother’s material needs,” he said.

Saying a child is a gift and “never the basis of a commercial contract,” he called for a global ban on surrogacy “to prohibit this practice universally”.

Vatican teaching opposes in vitro fertilisation, and Francis has previously voiced the Roman Catholic Church’s opposition to surrogacy, or what he has called “uterus for rent”.

At the same time, however, the Vatican’s doctrine office has made clear that same-sex parents who resort to surrogacy can have their children baptised.

While commercial surrogacy contracts are common in the United States, including protections for the mothers, guarantees of independent legal representation and medical coverage, they are banned in parts of Europe, including Spain and Italy.

On Monday, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops quoted Francis’ words in explaining why the Catholic Church teaches that surrogacy “is not morally permissible”.

“Instead, we should pray for, and work towards, a world that upholds the profound dignity of every person, at every stage and in every circumstance of life,” spokesperson Chieko Noguchi said.


Topics: Pope Francis
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