Rome, 6th April 2024

The Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe (FAFCE) is proud to be a part of the coalition committed to the universal abolition of surrogacy. Hosted by the Casablanca Declaration, the first day of the International Conference in Rome featured speakers from a variety of backgrounds and areas of expertise.

Before the conference began on Friday 5th April, FAFCE and Casablanca Declaration representatives met with Pope Francis and, separately, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Secretary of State for the Holy See. They both reiterated their full support with the campaign to establish a universal abolition of surrogacy, protecting women and children from exploitation.

The Conference began with the impactful personal story of Olivia Maurel. Born of surrogacy, she is an inspiring campaigner against wombs for rent. During the press conference, she spoke to journalists alongside FAFCE President Vincenzo Bassi and representatives from the wider coalition to abolish surrogacy.

At the press conference, Vincenzo Bassi highlighted the “broad coalition of people from different backgrounds standing up for human dignity” that the Casablanca Declaration has brought together. “This is not a question of ideology. It is about talking about the reality of surrogacy”, he added.

President Bassi went on to talk about why we are here in Italy this year: “The international consensus is crucial. There is no current consensus. We hope that there are debates around the world to say no more to surrogacy”.

At the press conference, academic Sofia Maruri and author Kajsa Ekis Ekman reflected on the international market of surrogacy and the crisis of surrogacy tourism, describing how this market leads to exploitation of women and contradicts the dignity of human life.

The main hall also heard from Jennifer Lahl from the Center for Bioethics and Culture Network in the United States, and co-founder of Stop Surrogacy Now.

We also heard from a broad range of Italian political representatives across the spectrum. FAFCE welcomes the support from Italian MPs Zanella, Loizzo, Bonetti, Rossello, Varchi and Senator Valente. This conversation was moderated by Adriano Bordignon from FAFCE member Forum Delle Associazioni Familiari.

The Italian Minister for the Family Eugenia Roccella also gave a strong speech on the commodification of the child that surrogacy brings and how this market harms us all.

Providing a robust contribution was Birgit Kelle, German author of I’ll Buy Myself a Child: the disgraceful business of surrogacy. The hall also listened to author Kajsa Ekis Ekman on the “neoliberal creation myth” of surrogacy. This panel featured Eva Maria Bachinger, an author from Austria, as well as Herveline Urcun, an analyst from France.

The room was addressed by Sonnie Ekwowusi, chairman of the Human and Constitutional Rights Committee of the African Bar Association. He suggests surrogacy is a tragedy for Africa.

Finally, the last panel involved Diana Muñoz, professor from Colombia, and Emma Ciccarelli, from our member Forum Delle Associazioni Familiari, and Jorge Cardona Llorens, former UN advisor, who set out the international law context.

The end-of-day summary was provided by Vincenzo Bassi, President of FAFCE, who said: “No one is here is because they are guided by ideology. We are all from different cultures, different religions, different political ideas, but we are inspired to come here by reality. We should not forget our communities who have always considered the family to be a joyful responsibility. It is up to us to find a way to convince the world of the beauty of the family. We must continue finding common ground to promote the family as a gift, not as a commodity.”

The conference continues on 6th April, where the moderator will be Nicola Speranza, Secretary General of FAFCE.

FAFCE thanks ambassadors, representatives, and all conference attendees for supporting this crucial unifying campaign for human dignity.