France Denies Citizenship to Surrogate-Born Twins

France's top court refused to allow French citizenship for 10-year-old twin girls born to a surrogate mother in the United States.

A truly bizarre case illustrating that, shared values aside, there are some start differences between American and European law.

AP (“France: Surrogacy Ban Affirmed“):

In a ruling that affirmed France’s ban on surrogacy, the country’s top court refused on Wednesday to allow French citizenship for 10-year-old twin girls born to a surrogate mother in the United States who carried the babies for a French couple. The Court of Cassation said that a California county went too far by ruling that a French couple are legally the twins’ parents. The ruling exposes the legal limbo that many would-be parents find themselves in because of inconsistencies on surrogacy between countries like the United States, which legally recognizes it, and those that ban it. While the court ruled that the girls could not be listed in France’s civil registry, it also said that nothing prevented them from living with the couple in France.

Granting that surrogacy, artificial insemination, and various other issues remain controversial in some circles in the United States, the legal status of children born through those methods is settled. Presumably, the twins have American citizenship–they were born on our soil, so would be unless the parents are diplomats. But, assuming the couple don’t win on appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, the child is not a citizen of their own country.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Jack says:

    Isn’t the GOP trying to put us on that path with their attempts to change “birthright citizenship”?

  2. James Joyner says:

    @Jack: So far as I’m aware, nobody’s trying to deny citizenship to those born of American citizen parents–or even those of noncitizen parents with legal immigration status.

  3. Jack says:

    Not to use a slippery slope argument, but suppose birthright citizenship is repealed in the way that the loudest advocates seem to want. If a similar situation arises, with a surrogate mother from another country giving birth in that other country to a child with DNA from American citizens, doesn’t the same legal question arise?

  4. James Joyner says:

    @Jack: No. Surrogacy is a completely separate issue. We’ve established that a child born of a surrogate is immediately the child of the couple doing the contracting. I don’t believe they’re required to adopt even.

    The changes under discussion–which have zero chance of making it through the rigorous Constitutional Amendment process–are aimed solely at illegal aliens.

  5. Franklin says:

    We have completely inconsistent rules even within the States. In some, you can pay the birth mother for the surrogacy. In others, you may be legally allowed to use a surrogate but you can’t make any contracts regarding it, nor may any payment be made. It’s a somewhat interesting issue.

  6. Southern Hoosier says:

    I for one believe that the citizenship of a child should be based on the citizenship of the mother and not where the mother happens to be at the time of birth.