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SURROGATE MOTHERHOOD: Limits, Prejudices, and Future Prospective ~ Antonio Giordano, MD, PhD, SHRO

Updated: Jun 21, 2023



A woman who carries a pregnancy of an embryo created through in vitro fertilization or embryo implantation on behalf of people unable to have children due to infertility, personal choice, or physical, psychological, or gender-related obstacles is known as a surrogate mother.


According to Article 12, Paragraph 6 of Law 40/2004, "Anyone who, in any form, carries out, organizes, or advertises the marketing of gametes or embryos or surrogate motherhood is punished with imprisonment from three months to two years and with a fine of 600,000 to one million euros." In accordance with this law, this practice is prohibited in Italy.


Gestational surrogacy is permitted instead in the Netherlands, South Africa, Albania, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, and Greece, as long as the woman makes the decision "freely and autonomously," signs a contract with the couple or individual for whom she " carries the pregnancy," and the procedure is "free of charge," with a potential "reimbursement of expenses" for the pregnancy's needs.


Gestational surrogacy is also permitted in other nations, such as Armenia, Australia, Belarus, and Georgia, but only "for a fee." Surrogacy is only legal in Belgium, Israel, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom if it is "free of charge."


There is no united vision in the United States; rather, each state sets its own laws. Gestational surrogacy is legal both "paid" and "unpaid" in Arkansas, California, Florida, Illinois, Texas, Massachusetts, and Vermont, but only when "free of charge" in New York, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nebraska, Virginia, Oregon, and Washington.


Considering the calculated risks of a "misunderstood" opening to the "marketing of gametes," as some say, while keeping in mind the benefits or implications arising from the "autonomous and free" choice of the woman involved on behalf of infertile or unable-to-have-children, the issue is contentious and should be addressed as "honestly as possible," beyond the perplexities, ethical-legal and psychological implications for the woman, the child, and the future that follows.


Beyond the philosophical debate, and taking into account what constitutes "scientific evidence" and the effects of these actions, it is vital to define who is genuinely the "Mother." The mother is the caregiver par excellence, the greatest totem of our culture, an essential figure, without detracting from the role of the woman who carries and gives birth to the child. "a mother is a person who takes care, helps grow, nurtures with values of life another being," even where there is no "biological bond" with the child. As long as there is love, support, responsibility, and a life project that can evolve for better or worse, always remaining anchored to the "pact" of continuing to be a present, affectionate, caring person.


Although it is permitted in some nations, the ethical line surrounding "a money payment" for surrogacy is one that is difficult to cross.


In March 2021, the Constitutional Court reaffirmed the criminal liability and ban on the practice of surrogacy for the "protection of the dignity of women" aiming at avoiding the risk of "exploitation" of women who are from disadvantaged social and economic backgrounds and therefore "vulnerable," but the Court also considered the interest of the child born from a "gestation for others" occurred in countries where it is allowed, to "obtain legal recognition" of the bonds that in fact unite him/her to the members of the couple who wanted and sought him/her through surrogacy.


Beyond the current political debate, what appears obvious is the development of the "concept of care," which is not affected by prejudices and cultural, social, ethical, and political restraints in favor of civilization and human rights. It also embraces the perspective of an expansion of the concept of motherhood, extending it to anyone who loves and cares for a newborn.


This blog was first published in Sud Reporter by Professor Antonio Giordano, click here to read it.


Professor Antonio Giordano, M.D., Ph.D., is the creator and head of the Sbarro Health Research Organization, located at Temple University's College of Science and Technology in Philadelphia. Stay connected with him through his various social media platforms, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram, to receive the latest updates.

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