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Pope Francis blasts surrogacy as "deplorable" practice that turns a child into "an object of trafficking"

Surrogate babies trapped by war in Ukraine
Parents of surrogate babies battle to meet their newborns, trapped by the fighting in Ukraine 03:34

Rome — Pope Francis on Monday called for surrogate motherhood to be banned worldwide, calling the practice of surrogacy "deplorable" and saying an unborn child "cannot be turned into an object of trafficking."

In a wide-ranging speech to ambassadors of the 184 countries that have diplomatic relations with the Vatican, the pope said surrogacy represented a grave violation of the dignity of the woman and the child and that it exploited surrogate mothers' financial circumstances.

Pope Francis leads the Angelus prayer at the Vatican
Pope Francis leads the Angelus prayer at the Vatican, Jan. 7, 2024. Vatican Media/­Handout via REUTERS

"A child is always a gift and never the basis of a commercial contract," Francis said.

In 2022, the pope called surrogacy "inhuman," saying "women, almost all poor, are exploited, and children are treated like goods."

Laws on surrogacy differ widely around the world. Only a few countries, and some states in the U.S., allow commercial surrogacy. Others allow "altruistic" surrogacy, where no money is exchanged.  Many other nations, including most in Europe, have banned it altogether.

Francis included surrogacy in his list of conflicts and divisions threatening world peace in his annual speech to the diplomat corps, sometimes referred to as the pontiff's "state of the world" address. This year he also reflected on the ongoing wars in the Gaza Strip and Ukraine, the immigration crisis, climate change, arms proliferation, antisemitism, the persecution of Christians and artificial intelligence, among other topics.

The pope said the wars in Gaza and Ukraine prove that all conflicts end up indiscriminately affecting civilian populations where they are fought. 

"We must not forget that grave violations of international humanitarian law are war crimes," he said.

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