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Italy’s Meloni Seeks to Limit Surrogacy

Surrogacy has been illegal in Italy since 2004.  Now Italian lawmakers are debating a law which would make it illegal for Italians to get a surrogate abroad. 

New Italian Ban? 

One Italian lawmaker stated

“We strenuously say no to the sale of children. Surrogate maternity is the most extreme form of commercialization of the body.″

Anti-surrogacy laws are perceived as an “attack” on the LGBT community, seeing as that a gay couple that wants biological children might seek surrogacy.  According to WebMD

“If gay men decide to use a traditional surrogate, one of them uses their sperm to fertilize the surrogate's egg through artificial insemination. The surrogate then carries the baby and gives birth.”

Italy’s conservative prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, strongly favors the bill, and her coalition enjoys strong majorities in the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate since her election win last September.   

Opponents of the bill, however, also couch their language in moral terms, with slogans such as “Parents, not criminals.” Yet even some who might normally oppose Meloni are in favor of the legislation, insofar as they view surrogacy as violating women’s dignity.  Such arguments seem to appeal to feminist sensibilities, while also converging with traditional sentiments opposed to surrogacy. 

Meloni “Far Right”? 

Meloni is regularly referred to in the media as “far right.” Even Fox News gives her this label.  Reuters claims that hers will be “the most right wing government in Italy since WWII.”  Maybe by the standards of an American mainstream journalist Meloni is “far right.”  But if she resoundingly won the Italian election, apparently the Italian people don’t consider her beyond the pale. 

LGBT groups are spooked by her landslide victory last fall.  So what are they afraid of?  According to Reuters, they feel her victory “may lead to discrimination.”  As she puts it, Meloni is against “gender and LGBT ideological colonization in schools.” Perhaps this ban of surrogacy abroad is just the type of thing the LGBT community in Italy was afraid of, seeing as that surrogacy is a service that gay people are likely to take advantage of relative to hetero couples who can conceive naturally.  

Meloni is concerned about birthrates, a subject she recently discussed with Elon Musk, who is likewise concerned about depopulation.  Italy is ailing from the population crisis as much as any other Western European country.  Usually the solution to falling birthrates we hear is more immigration.  As a nationalist and opponent of open borders, that is certainly not Meloni’s solution.  

Couldn’t surrogacy create more children? If Meloni simply wants more people, why surrogacy could help.  The issue, though, is that Meloni wants more traditional families, not more test-tube babies for LGBT families.  

Tough on Immigration

Futher bolstering her conservative credentials, Meloni has been strong on immigration.  She turns away refugee boats that are forced to go to France, and of course Macron doesn’t have the balls to turn them away.  Politico describes Meloni as leading a “post-fascist party.”   In terms of her interaction with the EU, “Italy wanted more authority to remove rejected asylum seekers.”  Her solution is to return the refugees to Tunisia (regardless of whether they’re from there).  In contrast, Germany is led by a center-left government which is gun-shy to reject asylum seekers. 

On the other hand, Meloni is supportive of the Ukraine war efforts, which puts her within the European mainstream.  Her rhetoric has been fairly hawkish against Russia, referring to Putin’s “blackmail” of his energy resources.  True, she made her bones as a Euroskeptic populist.  However, she recently met with Macron to discuss migration, with whom she seems to have a decent relationship.  

Surrogacy Immoral?  

With IVF, a heterosexual couple can implant their own embryo into what is referred to as a gestational surrogate.  WebMD explains that gestational surrogates “don’t have any genetic ties to the child because it wasn’t their egg that was used.”  This would be an option if a woman cannot carry the baby herself.  In another scenario, gestational surrogacy may be an option for gay couples.

Many will be quick to judge the Italian lawmakers for their stance against surrogacy, as the American media already has.  But it is worth considering the moral implications.  Should we create children via surrogacy? For one thing, the mother (or father in the case of a gay male couple) lacks the bond with the child that occurs during pregnancy.  The first movement, the child kicking, the birth itself; all these are milestones which are not experienced first hand in surrogacy.  

This is not to say that surrogacy is our worst problem.  Yet it is problematic through a certain lens.  Perhaps every technological innovation raises such questions.  Where do we draw the on line on technology’s intersection with our relationships? Meeting a partner on a dating app?  Others will draw the line at IVF.  What about the use of IVF to create an embryo to be carried by a surrogate? It’s another layer of complexity and technology. It’s also expensive and, one imagines, emotionally taxing.   According to WebMD, surrogacy costs between 80k and 120k.  It’s like paying someone a year’s salary to sit there and be pregnant for you. 

The fact that Italy is pushing back against surrogacy is not necessarily a bad thing.  Simply, Italy is opting to instill traditional methods of pregnancy and birth, all the while they attempt to ameliorate their low birth rate.  Maybe Meloni has the right idea.

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