Marianne: What is the situation of French parents who performed surrogacy in Ukraine?
Anne Genetet: In the first weeks of the conflict, parents who wanted to pick up their babies born through surrogacy were stranded under Russian bombs. Some found themselves in a double situation of illegality: they had signed a contract with an agency, while surrogacy is illegal in France. They also violated Ukrainian regulations prohibiting surrogacy for homosexual couples. Today, according to the Quai d’Orsay, these French are all being repatriated to our territory.
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But we face a second problem: the future births of children currently being carried by Ukrainian women. French surrogacy figures are very high: about ten babies are born to French parents on Ukrainian territory every month. This equates to two babies a week on average. This range is small because I do not count twin pregnancies in these statistics.
The Ukrainian agency Biotexcom has published a video on Youtube in which it commemorates a “gathering” of babies in the bunkers of several cities in order to take them to border countries. Do you know if there are currently toddlers stranded at the border?
I don’t have the exact numbers at the moment. But the Quai d’Orsay has been contacted several times by French parents asking to be allowed to pick up their newborns on Ukrainian territory. Everything is done to facilitate the exit of these infants. These children are not responsible for the situation of illegality in which their parents put them. They also have no papers because the Ukrainian civil registers are currently closed. Exceptional administrative measures are being taken to protect their children. What they are going through is a tragedy.
They are on the front lines to observe the surrogacy process in Ukraine. What’s your feedback?
This crisis highlights the plight of surrogate mothers who are victims of body commodification. At the same time, she brings to light the immeasurable desire for children among infertile French women. As a doctor, I draw a parallel between this desire to have children and a steamroller that would change the arguments of those who use surrogacy. Furthermore, I observe that the commodification of Ukrainian women’s bodies is completely diluted by the agencies specializing in surrogacy. The latter present their approach as virtuous when they are only there to make money.
Is it up to the state to respond to this immeasurable desire for children that you mention?
Yesterday, the pain of not having children was accepted by infertile couples. But today it is considered unbearable. This shift raises several questions. What is the origin of this intolerance to frustration? Should all suffering lead to a government response? Is it the task of the state to ensure that every citizen lives on an Olympus where they neither get cold nor hot nor pain? I do not believe that. I even think it’s a trap.
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Since the beginning of my legislature, I have observed a constantly growing level of expectations of the French living outside of France towards the state. The latter tend to deny their individual responsibility and delegate it to France when they are not on our territory. This concerns me because of a confusion of the boundaries between the responsibilities of the individual and those of the state.
What is your personal position? In the last bioethical debates you had positioned yourself in favor of PMA for all.
I am sensitive to the desire to have children and the suffering of infertile couples, but I am radically opposed to any commodification of bodies. In France, blood and organ donations are free. This principle is fundamental to me.