Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe

Press release | Surrogate Motherhood: Conflict of Interest neglected at the Council of Europe

Strasbourg, 27 January 2016

Today the Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) met to discuss a draft report on Human rights and ethical issues related to surrogacy.
Concerns had been raised in the Committee about a conflict of interest regarding the rapporteur - Dr Petra De Sutter (Socialist Group, Belgium) who is also the head of the Department of Reproductive Medicine at the University Hospital of Ghent (Belgium), who practices surrogacy.
With a difference of 21 against 17, the Committee voted in favour of not considering a potential conflict of interest. A very surprising approach in an institution whose mission is to uphold democracy and the rule of law...

Prior to the meeting, FAFCE that holds a participatory status with the Council of Europe, called on the PACE Members to consider this serious issue, i.e. Surrogacy, at length with a due time of reflection, in order to protect the human dignity and the physical and mental integrity of children and presented a briefing note.

FAFCE also drew the attention of the Members of the Committee to the fact that according to the Code of Conduct for Members of the PACE, “Members shall avoid conflicts between any actual or potential economic, commercial, financial or other interests on a professional, personal or family level on the one hand, and the public interest in the work of the Assembly on the other” (Code of Conduct for Members of the PACERules of Conduct, §8). 

Tomorrow, the Committee will discuss the Draft Report presented by Dr De Sutter and decide whether to adopt it or not. 

FAFCE's President Antoine Renard says "We believe that the existence of customary law on surrogacy in some countries should not lead per se to pressures that dictates a legal framework on surrogacy, neglecting the huge ethical implications of both commercial and non-commercial surrogacy. The only acceptable kind of regulation that the Council of Europe should promote is a total ban of surrogacy through an international agreement."

Maria Hildingsson, Secretary General 
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