UN Envoy Supports Buying and Selling of Children
NEW YORK, September 13 (C-Fam) A UN representative charged with combatting the buying and selling of children has come out for the buying and selling of children in commercial surrogacy.
In her recent report to the General Assembly, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Sale of Children, Ms. Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, urges countries to ratify surrogacy agreements contracted abroad. The report also calls for homosexual couples to contract children through surrogacy as a human rights imperative, and affirms the ability of contracting parties to back out of adopting a child born though a surrogacy arrangement.
“A strict interpretation of the notion of the sale or trafficking of children as a criminal offence can have dire consequences,” de Boer-Buquicchio maintained in her report.
This is not new. In a previous report issued last year, the special rapporteur told UN member states that commercial surrogacy “could be conducted in a way that does not constitute sale of children if it were clear that the surrogate mother was only being paid for gestational services and not for the transfer of the child.”
Her position was criticized vehemently by UN Member States and civil society that pointed out ongoing abuses that result from the surrogacy industry, including abandoned children, forced abortions, the commodification of children, trafficking in women and children, and children being priced differently based on their gender and characteristics.
Despite these worrying trends, de Boer-Buquicchio did not budge from her position in favor of regulating surrogacy as opposed to banning it, even as she said that the first priority must be “to prevent the commodification of children.”
In her latest report, de Boer-Buquicchio urges countries that ban surrogacy to recognize surrogacy arrangements made in other countries. She asks countries to adopt a treaty and model legislation to allow this.
In a seeming contradiction, she also maintains that “intending parents” in surrogacy contracts should not be forced to care for the children who are born from such arrangements.
“Practically, neither a surrogate nor intending parent(s) should be forced to maintain parental responsibility involuntarily,” the report states.
Much of the report is dedicated to interpreting international law in a way that justifies the practices of the surrogacy industry.
The rapporteur reads the “child’s right to know and be cared for by his or her parents” narrowly. The right, enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, does not apply to the way a child is conceived, according to de Boer-Buquicchio. It only means that a child should have “access to origins.” Even then, the rapporteur maintains this applies only where it is “feasible.”
The rapporteur also says that the family “is not defined under international human rights law” and that “it is crucial to ensure that access to a whole range of health facilities, goods, services and information” is not denied to anyone “based on the sexual orientation or gender identity of the intending parents.”
While the rapporteur says there is no such thing as a “right to a child,” she cites “sexual and reproductive health rights” as a justification for surrogacy, specifically, the right to sexual and bodily autonomy and “the right to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so.”