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French press review 31 January 2013

Surrogate motherhood is the big story this morning in France.

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The French Justice Minister, Christiane Taubira, has proposed changing the law to enable children born to surrogate mothers to become French citizens.

It's a little complicated, and has caused a lot of anger in circles already agitated by the debate on marriage for homosexual couples.

So, to recap: surrogate motherhood . . . that is, the business of having a woman carry the test-tube child of an infertile couple . . . is and will remain illegal in France. But, once such a child has been born outside the territory . . . India and the United States are the two big destinations for would-be parents . . . the legal picture becomes complicated.

In the US, a child born on the national territory is automaticaly entitled to an American passport and so has no problem with visiting France, but cannot legally remain indefinitely.

In India, the nationality of children is determined by the nationality of the parents. A child born there has no clear legal status, and is considered to be French by the authorities in Delhi. But he or she currently has no right to French nationality. That's the legal black hole that Minister Taubira is attempting to fill.

The right-wing opposition thinks the proposed law change is hypocritical, because it effectively encourages people to break the law by exporting the problem. It's also a socially divisive issue since medically assisted parenthood is not for the poor. Apart from the costs associated with in vitro fertilisation, you then have to negotiate a fee with the stand-in mother . . . the going rate is 20,000 euros in India, and 100,000 euros in the United States.

Le Figaro and La Croix, both very firmly against the law allowing marriage for everyone, are incensed at the timing of the proposal on surrogate motherhood. Figaro sees it as, at best, a mistimed provocation; La Croix thinks it's a case of bad manners. Especially since the whole tortured debate on medically assisted parenthood will be considered by the French National Assembly in March.

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