Resort to a rent belly is prohibited in Spain, but it happens because there are families that move to countries like Ukraine, The United States, Canada or Russia - after paying tens of thousands of euros and with the help of intermediary agencies - where it is legal to accede to what is also called surrogate pregnancy or by substitution for which a woman has a child and gives up her motherhood and paternity to other people. There are about a thousand Spanish families who come to this practice every year. Then they register the babies in the consulates and embassies under an administrative resolution that was approved in 2009 so as not to leave the children helpless and that has become the gateway. An internal document of the PSOE offers formulas to try to stop this practice in Spain with punishments to the intermediaries and with restrictions on this registration of babies. The Spanish Government, contrary to rent bellies, has no regulation among its short-term plans, according to a spokeswoman for Vice President.
Spain is part of the group of more restrictive countries with this practice together with Germany, France, Austria or Italy, among others. Along with them there are others in which it is allowed and in which it is practiced with international claimants. The difficulty is to set limits to a practice for which there is no international common legal framework and that, unlike others, it ends with a minor at the doors of a consulate for which it is necessary to watch. That is the way of entry in Spain, where it is allowed to register the babies that are biological children of one of the Spanish parents after the approval of a resolution of the General Direction of the Registry and the Notary in 2009.
The report on the ethical and legal dilemmas of pregnancy by substitution, drawn up at the request of the Equality Policy Advisory Council of the PSOE, proposes to annul the aforementioned resolution, after a transitory period of adaptation whose duration is not fixed. The document, of 16 pages and presented in the advisory body of the PSOE in mid-November, contemplates sanctioning the Spanish agencies that put families in contact with expectant mothers. Compare rent bellies with the sale of organs or human trafficking. And it foresees to penalize to those who go to these practices "that could incur a crime similar to the one of traffic of minors".
Citizens In favor. They presented in 2017 a proposal of law to legalize the rent bellies as an "altruistic" practice.
PSOE. Against. They established a position in 2017 after a pulse between feminists against sectors of Socialist Youth and LGTBIQ.
We can. Against. To apply it "would introduce another element of oppression on women," they said in February, after months of internal debate.
PP. Against. They reject "the commodification of motherhood," they said when Citizens made their proposal.
Neither the Government nor the PSOE clarify what the fate of this report will be. "The rent bellies are the use of the body of the poorest women," he said. nothing else to arrive at the Government in June Carmen Calvo, vice president and minister of Equality. In November, Calvo received the work of the group of experts in Ferraz, where she also serves as secretary of Equality of the PSOE. The document is signed, among others, by the jurist specialized in Equality, Octavio Salazar, the university expert in gender violence Ángela Escribano, the feminist lawyer Altamira Gonzalo (who chairs the Equality Advisory Board of the PSOE) or the prosecutor specializing in violence of gender Susana Gisbert. Carmen Calvo has declined to comment on the content of that work neither as a member of the Government nor from her position as the main responsible for equality of her party.
Most of the people who make use of rent bellies in Spain come to Ukraine, where around 40,000 euros, or the United States, with rates that exceed 100,000. The proposal of the PSOE internal document highlights the need to an international regulation or, at least, an "urgent" pronouncement within the EU in which other experts have already repaired.
The international gap
The postulates of the work are similar to the recommendations made in 2017 The Bioethics Committee of Spain. According to its president, Federico de Montalvo, "either we work internationally or it will be very difficult to address this issue". De Montalvo is also part of the group of experts from more than thirty countries that make up the International Bioethics Committee of UNESCO, the only Bioethics Committee globally and that is preparing a report, scheduled for July, on the impact of human reproduction assisted in maternity and paternity and in which it is expected to be able to reach a common position on the hirings of rent. It will not be binding, but it will be a guide for international action. Without that framework, adds the also professor of Law of ICADE, "the conflict will continue to exist."
"It is not going to be able to be solved from the perspective of a single country", says Cristina González Beilfuss, member of the group of experts who, since 2015, debate in the Hague Conference to also elaborate a possible international treaty on surrogate pregnancy. "Even if you try to stop in Spain, there will be people who get lawyers or agencies online. The problem is that once the child is born, something must be done with it and you can not be discriminated against because of its origin. But if the situation remains as it is until now, it leaves the possibility of falling into the hands of unscrupulous intermediaries. "
Vicente Bellver, professor of Philosophy of Law and member of the Committee of Bioethics of Spain, is the most optimistic of the experts consulted with the proposal of the PSOE: "I applaud the initiative completely". It proposes to apply "vigorously" the current regulations. "If, in addition, the instruction is repealed and we send the mediating agencies the clear message that this activity is not in accordance with the law, the possibilities that those contracts will continue to be carried out will be reduced exponentially", Bellver considers. "These agencies are law firms that look for lucrative activities within the law. They will be the first to not risk a contract if there is not an instruction that will protect them. "
The report of the Equality Policy Advisory Council of the PSOE includes proposals to curb the proliferation of babies gestated by wombs in Spain to facilitate "generous and altruistic" adoption. For this, they claim to simplify the requirements faced by applicants, shorten procedures and favor bilateral agreements with States that allow "less complex" access for those who can not be mothers or fathers in a natural way.
"It is important to analyze with caution the impact that the surrogate pregnancy has had on the adoption", says the president of the Committee of Bioethics of Spain, Federico de Montalvo, who assures that there has been a very significant reduction of children adopted in the last decade, and although this is not attributable exclusively to the proliferation of this technique, it should not be ruled out that it has not had a direct impact, as some international authors already suggest.
The internal document of the PSOE also analyzes the wombs of rent from a feminist perspective. It alludes to a manifesto signed by the group We are not vessels that considers that the desire to be a parent "does not imply any right to have children". And it proposes an addendum to the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention and Fight against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (the so-called Istanbul Convention, ratified by Spain in 2014) to include renting wombs as one more form of violence against women.