Other member countries of the European Union have a reputation as tax havens, where investors can set up companies and transfer capital with low or no taxation in dt time. In recent years, Greece has acquired the reputation of a paradise for surrogacy due to the particularly favorable legislation compared to other countries of the Union, where obtaining a child through this method is prohibited. Thus, our country has become the pole of a new type of peculiar tourism, medical tourism. Couples mainly from France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain, where any form of surrogacy has not been institutionalized, resort – among other countries – to Greece to have their longed-for child.
A favorable institutional framework
In our country, Laws 3089/2002 and 3305/2005 created the framework for medically assisted reproduction and especially for surrogacy, which concerns the transfer of fertilized eggs, often of the biological mother, into the body of another woman who carries and gives birth to the child . “Regarding the surrogate is determined mainly in the Civil Code (articles 1458, 1464), Law 3305/2005 and decision 1704 of the National Authority for Medically Assisted Reproduction – EAIYA (Government Gazette B΄5524/26.10.2022)”, it states in “NEW” the deputy president of EAIYA Dimitra Papadopoulou.
THE surrogacy enables couples who wish to have a biological child to do so. This process, however, includes specific steps and has conditions. Initially, the woman applying to have a child via surrogate must not have exceeded 50 years of age, have a medically proven inability to conceive and both she and her husband or partner must not have any sexually transmitted disease (STD ). On the part of the surrogate, it is required by law to be aged 25-45, to already have one child, not to have undergone more than two caesarean sections and also not to suffer from any STD.
It is also a condition that both the applicant and the surrogate are residents of Greece, while the genetic material to be used cannot belong to the surrogate. Then follows the drawing up and signing of an agreement, i.e. the act in which it is clarified that the woman who is going to carry the fetus agrees to carry it out. Based on the above legislation, only then can the procedure to appoint a surrogate by a court decision begin. Once this is done, she can now legally take the parents’ fertilized egg and carry it. “There is no standard for the contract. It is formed according to the contracting members”, emphasizes the deputy president of EAIYA.
The exploitation of a real need
However, the growing demand has led scammers to exploit both the desire of couples to have a child of their own and the financial need of surrogate women to make huge financial profits in opaque ways and by circumventing the law.
Official data on the number of surrogate pregnancies in the country do not exist, which demonstrates the gap in the surveillance of such a sensitive – medically and legally – procedure. The only data available concerns the period from 2005 to 2015, years in which 173 court decisions were issued by the Court of First Instance of Athens alone. “The information in question, however, comes from court decisions and we do not know if there was an embryo transfer, gestation and delivery,” emphasizes Dimitra Papadopoulou.
Of course, the recent case that came to light regarding the action of clinical assisted reproduction in Chania provides an insight into the demand for the procedure in question. According to EL.AS., therefore, they were registered 98 women – victims of human trafficking, who had been subjected to labor exploitation as surrogate mothers for an unknown period of time, and 13 cases of illegal incidents for the process of obtaining a child through a surrogate motherhood program. According to police sources, the benefit obtained by the criminal organization per surrogacy program usually ranged from 70,000 euros to 100,000 euros, while in specific cases the cost of the process reached 120,000 euros.
However, in our country, surrogate motherhood is an act without compensation. That is, the law does not allow the couple to provide compensation to the surrogate beyond the costs of achieving the pregnancy, the pregnancy itself, the delivery and the caesarean section, the compensation for her absence from work and also an amount for her physical exertion. As Dimitra Papadopoulou explains, there is a specific cost for all of this, which is again defined by the legislator: “It is provided for the payment of the surrogate’s expenses (medicines, medical examinations, etc.), compensation for the loss of income from her work until 10,000 euros and correspondingly for physical exertion another 10,000 euros, which reaches 15,000 in the case of twins”.
Nevertheless, the legislation did not prevent the managers of the specific clinic from acting illegally and effectively commercializing the specific procedure, creating a center of informal medical tourism under the nose of the authorities, even at the time when the operating license was revoked of the center, which was never executed.