Jan 8, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Pope Francis calls for global ban on surrogacy

Pope Francis holds his speech during “State of the World” address to members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See

Pope Francis addresses members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See at the Apostolic Palace on Jan. 8. Photo: Vatican Media via Vatican Pool/Getty Images)

Pope Francis on Monday called for a global ban on surrogacy and said the practice is "despicable."

Driving the news: In an address to ambassadors accredited to the Holy See, Francis mentioned surrogacy motherhood among a list of issues threatening peace and dignity around the world, per a readout from the Vatican.

  • "I deem deplorable the practice of so-called surrogate motherhood, which represents a grave violation of the dignity of the woman and the child, based on the exploitation of situations of the mother's material needs," Francis said.
  • Adding that having a child should never be the "basis of a commercial contract," Francis appealed on the international community to ban the practice universally.

The big picture: Surrogacy is controversial in some parts of the world, with many countries — including Italy — banning the practice.

  • This isn't the first time Francis has come out against surrogacy. In 2022, he termed it "uterus for rent" and called it inhumane, per Vatican News.
  • Notably, the Vatican's doctrine office has said that children born via surrogacy can be baptized, per the New York Times.

There are two types of surrogacy — gestational or traditional — that are distinguished by how the embryo is created.

  • In gestational surrogacy, the surrogate mother does not provide the egg for fertilization. In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate mother's own biological eggs are used for the fertilization process.
  • Pope Francis did not draw a distinction in his remarks between the two types. He referred to the practice only generally.

Worth noting: Surrogacy often allows same-sex couples and people struggling with infertility to have children when they may not otherwise be able.

Zoom out: In other parts of his address on Monday, Francis mentioned the Israel-Hamas war, migration and the climate crisis.

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