Dutch court: Child does not need a mother after birth


Western Europe

Lennart Nijenhuis, CNE.news

Photo AFP, Jack Guez

A Dutch court ruled that intended parents can have their child's birth certificate drawn up without the surrogate mother's name. "A woman is thus reduced to a womb."

Although the two men were "unable to realise their desire for children on their own", according to the court in The Hague, they were still both allowed to register themselves as legal parents. The surrogate mother who gave birth to the child can thus be discarded. In doing so, the court abandons one of the basic principles of Dutch family law: mater semper certa est - the mother is always certain.

Van Dijk. Photo Twitter

The ruling is shocking, thinks Diederik van Dijk. He is the director of the Christian pro-life organisation NPV Care for Life. "This is how you deny a child its mother," he says. With this ruling, Van Dijk argues, the surrogate mother becomes even more vulnerable in the discussion around surrogacy. "These women are often vulnerable and in this way reduced to a womb."

"Let's be clear: a child of a surrogate mother is a child on demand", says Van Dijk. "There is a lot of talk about the parents' wishes, often gay parents, but where are the child's interests? Must everything give way to the gay lobby?" Van Dijk also sees a contradiction in society: "With adoption, we have become increasingly cautious because documentation of origin is so important. In surrogacy, that doesn't seem to matter at all."


The Hague Court issued the controversial ruling in January after a gay couple applied to the civil registry, but the news broke on Thursday. Both men wanted to be recognised as fathers of their two children. The couple had previously started two surrogacy projects in the United States. But where US law allows a birthing woman to relinquish the child, this is not the case in the Netherlands as yet, given the adage mater semper certa est. With this court ruling, this age-old principle seems to have become a thing of the past.

The Hague municipality confirmed to the Dutch daily NRC the practice of entering 'motherless' records in the birth register anyway, even though it is "contrary to public order." The men's lawyer said the officials "baulked for a while" but acquiesced. "Politics has left this laying around for too long; then a judge will sort it out himself," he said.


Yet politics is not sitting still either. The news of the court ruling comes a few days after Franc Weerwind, the Dutch Minister for Legal Protection, sent a law proposal to the House of Representatives. That law should regulate altruistic surrogacy in the Netherlands and make it possible for intended parents to record that they are the legal parents even before birth. In addition, Weerwind wants a ban on commercial surrogacy in the Netherlands. However, the bill says nothing about curbing commercial surrogacy abroad.

This shows that the current bill is "absolutely not a solution to the problem", Van Dijk argues. It is already easier for intended parents to enter a (commercial) surrogacy process abroad, and this bill does not prevent that. "I would say: start by curbing cross-border surrogacy," he says.

With this call, Van Dijk joins the Casablanca declaration of March this year. In it, experts from several countries called for a global ban on surrogacy. According to them, surrogacy cannot be controlled if countries have different legislation.



Subscribe for an update, and receive a documentary and e-book for free.

Choose your subscriptions*

You may subscribe to multiple lists.