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Surrogacy becomes a universal crime - The “right” in the Italian government doesn’t stand for human right

When Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni assumed power, one of the objectives of her party was to criminalise surrogacy.

The Italian parliament officially passed the bill making surrogacy illegal in July 2023, with 166 votes, and it now awaits approval by the senate. If the senate approves it, the bill would become law.

Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy), Meloni's party, had already drafted a law proposal during the previous legislative session in 2018, seeking to prohibit surrogacy abroad. 

It argued that women “lend their body and don’t have any right on the child who they carry”, who is “forced to part from their biological mother just after the delivery (an absolute dramatic event) and who will wonder for their whole life who their biological mother is”. The text further contended that the “fairytale of the mother who generously lends her body to a woman who cannot get pregnant is far from reality, while the truth is that there is just a mere commercialisation of mothers and children.”

At that time, the proposal did not become law, but the debate resurfaced in March when FdI group leader Carolina Varchi renewed the proposal, expanding the ban on surrogacy beyond national borders and suggesting that it be considered a universal crime, punishable abroad as if it were committed in Italy.


The initial ban on surrogacy within national borders came with the passage of Law No. 40 of 2004, titled "Regulations Regarding Medically Assisted Procreation." This law permitted assisted reproduction in Italy only when no other therapeutic methods for infertility or sterility were available.

However, the same law, as stated in Article 12, Clause 6, declared that “realisation, organisation and publicity of the commerce of gametes and embryos and of surrogate pregnancy” was an unlawful practice, punishable by imprisonment ranging from three months to two years and a fine ranging from €600,000 to €1 million.

In 2016, the National Committee for Bioethics (CNB) voted against the“commercialisation of the human body,” with 26 professors supporting the ban on surrogacy, while four were opposed. They argued that surrogacy represented a “detrimental contract to the dignity of the woman and the child, presented as an object in a transfer act.”

According to the Italian National Institute of Health (ISS) in 2021, approximately 15% of couples in Italy are infertile. Additionally, according to ISTAT (National Institute of Statistics), there were around 9,084 civil unions involving gay couples in 2018.

Since surrogacy was banned in Italy, many people have been forced to seek surrogacy services abroad in countries where the practice is allowed, prompting the proposal to criminalise surrogate pregnancies initiated by Italian citizens abroad.

However, the Court of Appeal did not include surrogacy as a universal crime in the 2004 law, as the citizens who turned to surrogacy abroad cannot be prosecuted, unless it is considered a crime in the country where it occurs.

Nonetheless, the Ministry of the Interior requested the Court to cease the transcription of birth certificates for children of two fathers born abroad through surrogate pregnancy on January 19.

During a press conference organised by the Luca Coscioni Association (ALC) in March 2023, a national association that engages in social debates, including issues like euthanasia and assisted fertilisation, two couples who couldn't have children shared their experiences with surrogacy abroad.

One of the couples, Evelina Negri and Michele Croci, chose surrogacy in Ukraine because Evelina had a rare illness that prevented her from becoming pregnant. Evelina explained,“We carried out the proceeding for the adoption, but it was stopped by bureaucracy, since I was on the waiting list for a transplant, while we were just in the usual three years of marriage necessary to have access to adoption waiting lists.” shared Evelina. “So we thought of surrogacy. Above all because we found out that in Ukraine the technique is put under rigid security measures. The surrogate shouldn’t be in low economic conditions, she should be healthy and pass a psychological screening.

“War broke out while Achille was born, from that moment we got to know the surrogate mum who reassured us on their conditions. Thanks to the Luca Coscioni Association with their lawyers we managed to get to Lviv and finally hold him. The surrogate mum is happy to have granted our wish, she doesn’t believe in words such as commercialisation or exploitation. In fact we are friends, we send each other videos and messages all the time, and this summer she will come to visit with her family. She would do it again.” 

Evelina's account contradicts the belief that the child is "forced" to never see their surrogate mother again, as suggested by the original law proposal by FdI in 2018. She concluded by saying, “Concerning the economic side, we gave her the rightful repayment, since she took on a certain responsibility, risks and expenses of a pregnant woman.”

It is estimated that at least 250 couples turn to surrogacy every year, with 90% being heterosexual couples. Typically, these couples travel to Ukraine or Greece (although these countries do not accept gay couples) and return with Ukrainian or Greek birth certificates, stating them as the child's mother and father, without disclosing that the child was born via surrogacy.

Cover image: LaPresse

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