Granted that surrogacy is a necessity in modern times, the Konstantinos Pantos, general secretary of the Hellenic Society of Reproductive Medicinebegan to analyze the conversation he had with Thanos Siafaka at First Program 91.6 and 105.8 and in the show “The GPS of Current Affairs”, what exactly is true in Greece regarding the process, why Greece became a destination for couples from abroad to have a child through surrogacy and what happened after the case with the illegal adoption ring in Chania.
Mr. Pantos pointed out that for a surrogacy procedure to proceed there must be medical reasons. He cited, for example, young women who may have Rokitansky syndrome, meaning the uterus is missing and cannot conceive in any other way than using a surrogate.
“This process can be done in two ways. One way is also the healthiest, through the family, mother, aunt, sister, cousin. This is the most correct way. In our country this procedure is allowed, such as the process of finding an unrelated woman who wants to become a surrogate with permanent or temporary residence in Greece is also allowed and of course also with a court decision which is necessary for this procedure. Greece, of course, has a more liberal approach to surrogacy. It is a more favorable legislation that allows couples to come from abroad, which helps what we say and medical tourism for our country. That is why our country is a medical tourism destination, but it is not a paradise, in the sense that everything is done without conditions and without lawssaid Mr. Pantos.
The age limit under the new law from 2022 is 54 years for both the applicant, the biological parents and the surrogateexplained.
“Some specific conditions must be met. They are done in couples but even cohabiting partners, even in single women who have a medical issue and cannot conceive. A court decision must be taken in order for this to proceed, i.e. there must be permission from the court and of course the most correct way is to do it for humanitarian reasons. At the same timethe surrogate cannot have more than two Caesarean sections” pointed out Mr. Pantos, while he explained that there must also be health conditions.
It is estimated that 40 to 50% of surrogacy applicants are same-sex couples, mostly men, Mr. Pantos noted. “This procedure is not allowed in Greece at the moment and they usually go to the United States of America, where it is allowed,” he described.
The surrogate should be over 25 years old and it is good that she has a child, so that this psychological bond does not exist, argued Mr. Pantos, however there is no legal obligation for such a thing.
“It is rather a condition of the Code of Ethics of the National Authority which tells us that it is good to have a child and of course those women who want to be surrogates should either stay in Greece, since they are here in our country, or they can go abroad. But there is a peculiarity in Greece, that based on the court decision, the child born from the surrogate can be registered in the name of the biological parents at the time of birth. Abroad this process is done through adoption. Here it is done automatically. And that is why too many of these couples who have a surrogate mother, even from abroad, prefer to stay in Greece so that the surrogate gives birth in Greece and leave with their child in their arms and under their own name” added Mr. Pantos.
The process of surrogacy in several countries is not allowed, in others it is allowed under different conditions compared to Greece, while the most basic part, which concerns how the baby will legally arrive in the arms of its biological parents, seems to be the notification difference for those interested and the reason they end up choosing our country.
“Here there is legislation, there are specific conditions, everything that is done with surrogacy is recorded, it is not a wild grape. Of course, in Chania in this particular case, I imagine, because I don’t know, that the surrogates stayed in a certain place in order to give birth in order to take advantage of the favorable framework in Greece that allows the child to be born in the name of the biological mother” pointed out Mr. Pantos.
“Because too many of these women were coming here from Australia for surrogacy and considering the noise made because of the particular unit in Crete, the law is now changing and they will allow surrogacy in its entirety in Australia as well. Just as the law in Australia is also changing for female donors who until now were only named. They will also allow the anonymous donor, so that the Australian women do not leave Australia, do not come to Greece, but to find the specific services in their own country. In other words, the whole process and as it developed, did a lot of damage to the image of Greece abroad, when a journalist appeared on an Australian language channel and said that things are not good at all in Greece, but he was not talking about the specific unit, he was talking about the picture as a whole. The manipulations were not done in a completely correct way. Of course, the police are handling it in the right way, but the way the ministry handled it, I believe, was not entirely correct in terms of the image,” Mr. Pantos emphasized.
There are no official data on the number of children born in our country via surrogate, he said. “I believe that there are dozens of couples. Regarding the placement of an embryo before the court decision is prohibited. It is not right. A court decision must first be made that we can proceed with the process. It usually takes 3 to 6 months. Some lawyers deal with this process, in three to six months they have the court decision and if there is one, only then are we allowed to proceed with the process of assisted reproduction and embryo transfer” said Mr. Pantos in this regard.
Regarding the financial part of the whole process, Mr. Pantos described the following.
“Greece allows a certain fee for surrogate mothers, which by law is 10,000 for a single pregnancy or 15,000 for a multiple pregnancy. On top of this, one should take into account the costs and fees of doctors for follow-up, for the delivery, for their accommodation if they are away from home, for the loss of their work. (…) Around 20,000 euros is the legal fee”.
Speaking on the same show, the lawyer and Doctor of Criminology Panagiotis Papaioannou, pointed out that according to a specific decision of the Supervisory Board of the National Authority for Medically Assisted Reproduction, the woman who is pregnant and gives birth on behalf of someone else is only entitled to specific expenses, which are required to achieve the pregnancy, gestation, delivery and caesarean section, as long as they are not covered by the insurance company.
“The philosophy of the whole law for assisted reproduction and also for the surrogate mother is that especially for the surrogate mother there is no remuneration, i.e. there is no financial benefit. This applies to both international and national systems for the protection of individual rights, which in short say that a person does not dispose of his body or parts of his body for financial gain. This is prohibited. Therefore, anything that is not about the specific thing the law says, that is, the specific expenses that are expressly justified, is illegal. From here on, the law also criterias cases, if the surrogate mother is unemployed, that she is entitled to some compensation of up to 10,000 euros,” said Mr. Papaioannou.
There are certified assisted reproduction centers that adhere to the anonymization and privacy protocols of all those available to help, and are bound by law as to how anonymity will be maintained and exactly how and transparency there will be regarding this type of coverage. of expenses, which operate in Athens and Thessaloniki, Mr. Papaioannou explained. The same centers mediate so that there is an anonymous contract with all the required consents, as the law says in detail.
“For there to be responsibility, there are the centers. If something goes wrong or if some part of the legal framework is violated, that’s why the certified centers exist. Now, I know someone who can find you something else, these Greek and criminal (…) What we need to know is that this procedure is not for the sake of money. It is a very sensitive process, with a specific transparent legal framework, which establishes the compensation with criteria” concluded Mr. Papaioannou.