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France urged to act over US surrogate agency

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France urged to act over US surrogate agency
An American surrogacy agency is facing a conservative backlash in France. Photo: Waltrand Grubitzsch/AFP
16:07 CET+01:00
Surrogate motherhood might be illegal in France, but that hasn't stopped an American surrogacy agency from holding meetings here, much to the ire of a group of French lawmakers who want authorities to take action.

A conservative French pressure group, backed by several lawmakers has filed a legal complaint in France against American surrogacy agency Extraordinary Conceptions.

The agency brings potential parents in France into contact with American surrogates and has reportedly been hosting informal meetings in France, a country which outlaws surrogate motherhood.

Its website also has a French version called Meres-Porteuses.com (below), clearly aimed at targeting a French audience.

The conservative association has decided enough is enough and has filed a legal complaint which forces authorities in France to investigate the American company.

Two lawmakers from conservative French political party UMP added their names on Wednesday to a legal complaint filed last week by watchdog group 'Jurists for Childhood' (Juristes Pour L'enfance), which also fought against gay marriage, newspaper Le Parisien reported on Thursday.

It is believed to be the first time a legal complaint has been filed against the group in France.

Senators Bruno Retailleau and Gérard Longuet railed against “the complicity of the French legal authorities in the business of surrogate mothers".

Their charges were reiterated by 'Juristes pour l'enfance' spokeswoman Aude Mirkovic who noted the surrogacy is strictly forbidden in France. She went on to say the practics is unfair to the children it produces."

"They bring a child into this world that doesn't know his parents. As soon as the child is born they take him away from his mother," she said. "That happens enough already. It's unfair."  

The complaint is for the present largely symbolic because Extraordinary Conceptions has for the moment only hosted meetings in France.

For their part, the agency's bosses firmly defended their work of connecting would-be parents with surrogates.

“We help desperate people who wish to have children and are obligated to go to the United States to have them,” agency founder Stephanie Caballero told Le Parisien.

A gay and lesbian group also stood up for Extraordinary Conceptions.

“It’s a rather well-known agency. Many of our members have used their services,” Association of Gay and Lesbian Parents and Future Parents spokesman Doan Luu said.

Good agency or not, surrogacy remains firmly outlawed in France. A person who, in exchange for money, puts potential parents in touch with surrogate mothers faces a maximum of five years in prison and a €75,000 fine if convicted.

Arrests for surrogacy are unusual, but not unheard of in France. In July 2013 a surrogate mother was hit with a €5,000 fine, the majority of which was suspended, for “artificial insemination”, French daily Le Monde reported.

The case came to authorities’ attention when the surrogate refused to turn over the resulting baby to parents who had hired her to carry their child.

Extraordinary Conceptions, which was relatively well regarded in online reviews, charges €45,000 for its services and claims to have over 2,100 egg donors in its network.

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