Italians who travel overseas to secure surrogates face two years in prison or a €1 million fine under a new law the hard-Right prime minister says will eliminate “procreative tourism”.
Having a baby through a surrogate has been illegal in Italy for nearly 20 years but Giorgia Meloni’s proposals would extend that prohibition to couples seeking to have a child in countries like the US, Canada and India where it is legal.
“The penalties should apply for offences committed abroad,” the proposed law says.
Babies were being treated as “merchandise”, the backers of the new legislation said, in what was an “execrable example of the commercialisation of the female body”.
The new law has been pushed by two politicians from Ms Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party, including Isabella Rauti, a hard-Right senator whose father was a prominent member of Italy’s Fascist movement.
They said that there had been a dramatic increase in recent years in “procreative tourism”, in which straight couples unable to have children, as well as gay couples, had resorted to looking for surrogate mothers abroad.
‘Surrogacy becoming a veritable business’
“The recourse to this practice has dramatically increased and surrogacy is becoming a veritable business which, just to give an example, is €2 billion a year in India,” they said in presenting the draft law.
Surrogate mothers in India charged around $25,000 to $30,000 while those in the US charged around $50,000, they said.
One of the main planks of the Meloni government, which came to power in October, is an emphasis on traditional families. Her Brothers of Italy party, which traces its roots to Italy’s post-war rump Fascist movement, governs in alliance with Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and Matteo Salvini’s League party. Together they won 45 per cent of the vote at the general election in the autumn.
“A uterus for rent is a commercialisation of women’s bodies and human life,” Ms Meloni wrote in a tweet in April last year, before she became Italy’s first female prime minister.
It was only right that seeking out the help of a surrogate mother should be designated a “universal crime”, she said.
A campaign group representing same-sex couples said the proposed law was retrograde and unjust.
Alessia Crocini, the president of Rainbow Families, said the proposal was “not worthy of a European country in 2023”.
She said that if the law is passed by parliament, couples with babies born to a surrogate mother faced the prospect of being arrested at airports on their return to Italy.
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