Update on Surrogacy in Italy

Victoria Ferrara


The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has condemned the Italian state for removing a child who was born to a surrogate in Russia from an Italian couple, and ordered it to pay thousands of euros in compensation.

Although there was no biological or genetic link to the baby boy born to a surrogate in Moscow, the ECHR held that Italy violated the rights of the intended parents, a married couple, to recognize the child as their own.

The intended parents, Donatina Paradiso and Giovanni Campanelli, made diligent and concerted efforts to create embryos, and to have a child as a result of this embryo creation. They had tried to transfer the embryos to Donatina but after failed attempts, the couple turned to surrogacy. The baby boy was born in Moscow in February 2011 to a surrogate via IVF.

The couple was registered as the baby's parents, in accordance with Russian law, but without any indication that the child was born through surrogacy. They were also provided with documents from the Italian Consulate in Moscow allowing the child to leave for Italy.

In October 2011, the Court in Italy ruled that the baby was to be taken from the intended parents and placed first in a children's home and later in a foster home.

This was an extremely unfortunate decision for a wanted baby who was to be brought up by loving parents. Instead, the Court created a severe interruption in the baby's life and the intended parent's world.  And, in fact, caused emotional devastation to the parents who made all of the efforts to bring the baby into the world.

The laws in Italy when it comes to surrogacy are not realistic and not a reflection of the world as it is today with advanced technology and the evolution of creating families in alternative ways. Under Italian law, the person who gives birth to a baby is legally its mother, and the use of surrogates is illegal.

On a positive note, the ECHR said the Italian state had violated Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights enshrining the right to respect for private and family life.

Although Paradiso and Campanelli, aged 48 and 60 respectively, had spent only six months with the baby, the court considered the period to have "covered important stages in his young life and they had behaved as parents towards him during that period".

The court ordered the Italian state to pay the applicants �?�20,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage and �?�10,000 for costs and expenses.

However, the state is not obliged to return the child as he would have "developed emotional ties with his foster family", the court said.  

At Worldwide Surrogacy, we are of the opinion that the next step should be to reunite this child with the parents who dreamed of him and desired to bring him into the world, and who had every intention of being his parents.

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