So-called surrogate motherhood – an exceptional method of solving couples’ infertility – is not very widespread in the Czech Republic. Assisted reproduction clinics provide this rather expensive service in a maximum of two hundred cases per year.
In the Chamber of Deputies, conservative politicians who want to completely ban this option met at a seminar on Tuesday. Why are they solving it now, when clinics have been offering the option for almost twenty years?
Interventions in human reproduction have long been considered by conservatives as something that is simply against nature. But now they went on a rampage in connection with the upcoming law on marriage for all. They fear that same-sex couples, mainly gay men, will have their children “made, carried and delivered” to order. And that it will become a crazy business selling eggs, sperm and “womb rental”.
It is interesting that these concerns are expressed most loudly by women in politics. ANO MPs Zuzana Ožanová and Helena Válková have already submitted a law that prohibits so-called surrogate motherhood. The ban is also demanded by the trio of ultra-conservative People’s Party MPs Nina Nováková, Romana Bělohlávková and Pavla Golasowská, who organized Tuesday’s parliamentary seminar.
It was very much a game of feelings. Olivia Auriol, born from surrogate motherhood, came from America to describe the psychological problems she suffered from. Associate Professor Hana Konečná from the University of South Bohemia, on the other hand, wanted to show with a video clip from the film Jára Cimrman Lying, Sleeping that anonymous donation will one day end in complete confusion. It will not be clear who is whose mother, father, son, daughter-in-law, grandmother, cousin – and in the end they will all be complete orphans.
Of course, the haunting was laughable at times. And yes, many concerns are understandable. However, the solution is definitely not a complete ban or even criminalization of surrogacy. Life finds its own way anyway, legislation does not legislate.
Here too, the ban would only mean a move to the black zone, where assisted reproduction would be completely out of control. And most importantly – for infertile couples, this would make one of the exceptional options for conceiving a child unnecessarily expensive and complicated.
Instead of a complete ban, politicians should be concerned with how to regulate the long-standing practice and give it a legal framework. Today, surrogate motherhood in the Czech Republic is in a gray zone, even though, as already mentioned, doctors have been offering it for twenty years. It is neither expressly permitted nor expressly prohibited. This is not the first time that science and practice have overtaken legislation. Today, the missing laws are replaced by the individual clinics’ own, fairly strict codes of ethics.
But that is far from enough. From a medical point of view, after so many years of practice, it may no longer be a complex medical procedure, but it raises a number of ethical, legal and social questions for which there are no completely clear and simple answers. At least a working group has now been created under the leadership of the Ministry of Justice, which is finally trying to prepare the missing rules.
There are a lot of things to deal with. It used to be said, with various lascivious contexts and winks, that “the father is always insecure” – unlike the mother. That is no longer the case, at least not in the field of surrogacy. What kind of relationship should a surrogate mother have with the child? What should be the criteria for its selection, so that people do not have to look for it through an advertisement on the Internet like today? Should there be any remuneration and compensation for lost profits for surrogate motherhood, or should we leave it purely to agreement with the parents?
And how to solve the risk of a possible dispute between the parents and the surrogate mother, if she refuses to hand over the child after birth? To whom does such a child “belong” more? And what are all the health indications to enable the inclusion of the biological mother in surrogacy treatment?
Of course, the Czech Republic is not the only country that is looking for answers and figuring out how to regulate surrogacy. For example, in Great Britain this procedure is allowed, while in France, for example, it is completely prohibited. We urgently need a law that will enable this and establish clear rules.
Mostly because of infertile couples who long for a baby and today are pushed into a gray zone full of uncertainties. But also due to the fact that the missing laws opened the way for practice, which made the liberal Czech Republic the base of so-called reproductive tourism, where absolutely anything is possible.