Norway has always maintained a conservative approach to surrogacy arrangements and surrogacy has always been a subject of national debate. The Norway government always discouraged their nationals for taking up commercial surrogacy arrangements. An unconventional development has taken place with these backgrounds with a royal intervention.
Norway’s Crown Princess Mette-Marit had come down to India secretly to help her gay friend and his husband for taking care of the new born children born through surrogacy in India. The gay couple took up a surrogacy arrangement in New Delhi, India; but were unable to come down to India for taking care of the new born twins. One of the parents was an employee of the Palace and a friend of the Crown Princess. The Crown Princess flew down to India immediately with Diplomatic Passport and nursed the children. The Indian Authorities were not informed of the arrival and the staff of the hospital where the children were born took her to be a nanny. A relative of one of the parents later came down to India and relieved the Crown Princess. The new-borns were granted VISA in November 2012, after which the children were taken back to Norway.
The crown princess is said to have acknowledged the national debate on surrogacy but insisted that she was not taking sides over the issue; and that she did what a friend has to do.
Couple of years back, I handled the case of a single mother from Norway who had taken up surrogacy in India and could not take the children back to Norway owing to high opposition from the Norway government. After a long debate with various governmental bodies, she was able to take the child back almost 2 years from the date of the birth of the children. I certainly find this development surprising.
This is the update pertaining to the French case of Dominique Mennessan and Sylvie. The earlier post on the decision of the Court of Appeals is here.
The Supreme Court of France, which is the highest judicial forum in France, (Court of Cassata) had turned down the application by the couple for inclusion of the names of their twin daughters in the French registry. The twins were born ten years ago through surrogacy in the month of October 2000. Isa and Leah have a birth certificate indicating that American parents are Menesson, but the French Government challenged transcription of these documents. The couple is fighting, since the birth of twins, for that French law recognizes their parentage.
The couple has been struggling for 10 years with the legal procedures for including the names of twin children in the French registry. The Court of Appeal, too, had not recognised the children to be French citizens. The children were born to an American surrogate mother, Mary. She gave birth to Isa and Leah from the embryos created from sperm from Dominique and the egg from a friend.
France does not allow surrogacy, practice to be carried by another woman, for a fee, an embryo conceived in vitro. In this case, the embryo has been conceived with sperm from the joint French, Dominique Menesson, and the oocyte from a friend of the couple. Dominique, the husband, however retains a recognition of parentage of their child through official documents issued in the United States.On the birth of the twin children, their birth certificates were prepared in accordance with the Californian Law. The couple have been considered to be the legal parents as per the United States authorities, but not by the French authorities.
In France, the woman who gives birth to the children is considered to be the legal mother of the child. This being so, French Law does not recognize surrogacy arrangements. According to Court of Cassata, the father of the children, Mennessan is the legal father of the child due to the biological connection. However, the commissioning mother, Sylvie is not considered the legal mother of the children. For all practical reasons, the children are considered as living with two different parents.