There is a war in Ukraine. Do you go to Prague to rent wombs?

Sold as 'altruistic' - but with 'reimbursement of expenses' equal to Ukrainian rates - GPA could become a new business in the Czech Republic given the tragedy in Kiev, where children are not picked up by clients frightened by the conflict. With all-inclusive packages, including cultural attractions and good restaurants. Meanwhile, in Spain, a Supreme Court ruling reiterates the severe condemnation of the practice of "reducing women and children to merchandise".
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A very recent ruling by the Supreme Court in Spain states that the surrogate motherhood violates the rights of mothers and children "treated as mere commodities", reiterating the ban.

The High Court states that these types of contracts "procure a harm to the best interests of the child and exploitation of women which are unacceptable". and violate the fundamental rights recognised by the Constitution and international human rights conventions, and are therefore 'manifestly contrary to our public policy'.

Both women and children "are treated as simple objects, not as persons endowed with the dignity inherent in the status of human beings and the fundamental rights inherent in that dignity," the judgment states.

In the meantime, the market is looking for new venues.

The surrogacy business in Europe is ready for a geographical relocation.

Ukraine, a preferred destination for the GPA until Russian aggression, is collapsing, with couples thinking of giving up on picking up children commissioned and trapped in the horrors of war. The relay could go to the Czech Republic, particularly PragueIt is a rich, easily accessible and highly westernised tourist destination, with excellent medicine and where assisted reproduction practices, such as the 'donation' (sale) of egg cells - started in 2003 - have a decades-long history.

For a long time it was thought that in this country, where there is no legislation recognising surrogacy, was precluded from transferring parenthood to the principals, making the process too risky for the applicant couples.

However, even though surrogacy in the Czech Republic is not currently regulated by any ad hoc law, relying on existing laws - in particular the Civil Code - is not possible. the prohibition in the Penal Code on renting out one's womb in return for payment could be circumvented.

According to Czech law, although the mother of the child is the one who gives birth to it, a woman is allowed to renounce her obligations as a mother and give the child up for adoption. So it happens that, immediately after the birth, based on a previous agreement with an infertile couple, the surrogate mother renounces the child. Then the woman of the couple, the wife of the child's biological father, adopts the child and is registered on the birth certificate as the mother. The two principals thus both become parents of the child.

A preliminary agreement with legal support stipulated between the principals and the surrogate mother could make the practice possible. Sites that promote and support couples seeking this practice are warned that legal support is a conditio sine qua non to be able to start it.

Before the actual performance there is a comprehensive consultancy service where "Reimbursement is always included in the agreement between the requesting couple and the surrogate mother'. It also says: "If the surrogate mother is found to be suitable, a consultation with the lawyer follows to discuss all the legal aspects and to clarify the situation from a legal point of view. [...] From a legal point of view it is more appropriate for the surrogate mother to be unmarried or divorced after the expiry of the protection period. Otherwise the post-natal procedure would be legally more complicated, but nevertheless possible". And again: "For surrogacy an egg from the surrogate mother is not used because according to the law, egg donation must be anonymous; using an egg from the surrogate mother, therefore, would violate the law."(!)

All indications are that these agreements between principals and surrogate mother reached with legal assistance are real contracts, binding on the surrogate mother: the compensation, hidden in the reimbursement of expenses, will be attractive enough for her not to change her mind immediately after the birth by refusing to give up her rights as a mother. The sites' insistence on the legal aspect and the agreement between the parties suggests that the conditions and constraints for the pregnant woman may be very heavy.

A medical study on GPA in the Czech Republic on data from the years 2004-2017 reports that: "We have no cases where the delivery of the child was problematic after birth. Surrogate mothers generally state that they are satisfied with their experience". And again:" The surrogacy programme has been successfully implemented in its entirety and has become an integral part of the treatment of certain causes of infertility".

This explains the proliferation of information on how to access this practice in the Czech Republic. Although officially it is an altruistic gestation, prices -aligned with those in Ukraine-. are clear and visible, with various all-inclusive service packages identical to those for tourists.

One becomes a "parent" by "leaving all worries behind" and enjoying cultural attractions and culinary specialities.

Laura De Barbieri

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