French surrogate mother on trial for defrauding two gay couples
(AFP) A French court is trying a woman on charges of defrauding two gay couples who hired her as a surrogate mother, which is illegal in France.
"I just wanted to make people happy," the sobbing 37-year-old defendant told the court in the Loire Valley city of Blois as the trial opened on Tuesday.
Using pseudonyms such as "little stork" and "sincere angel", the defendant, named only as Aurore, landed her first successful contract in 2010 with a male homosexual couple in western France, agreeing to carry a child for them for 15,000 euros.
The due date was March 21, 2011, but when the time came she sent a text message to the couple claiming that the child was stillborn.
In fact the baby boy was born in perfect health and sold for around 10,000 euros to another gay couple living in Luxembourg.
In 2012, she promised a baby to another male gay couple for 15,000 euros, then had the child but told them it died. Instead she sold it to a straight couple in northern France.
By the time she was arrested in 2013, the woman was in contact with another three couples and was charged with fraud and attempted fraud.
Experts said the defendant, who testified that she had been raped by her father as a teenager, suffered from "major emotional neglect" and low self-esteem.
"I would rather have been adopted by parents who would have loved me as I am," she told the court, sobbing.
Her clients are being tried simultaneously for "incitement to the abandonment of children".
"We realised it was illegal to use a surrogate mother, but when we went on the Internet we saw how easy it was," one of them told the court.
Altruism initially led Aurore to help childless couples. She already had four children in 2008 when she became pregnant with an unwanted fifth child, a baby girl that she offered for free to a Parisian couple.
That experience inspired her to earn money as a surrogate mother. In August 2009, a British couple showed interest but non-professional efforts to inseminate her with the husband's sperm failed.
Deputy prosecutor Jean Dematteis has recommended that she be sentenced to a year in jail with nine months suspended and that all four couples in the case should be given suspended fines of 2,000 euros.
Surrogacy, even if altruistic, has been banned in France since 1994. The fate of the three children, the one she gave away and the two she sold, will be decided pending the outcome of the trial, with a verdict set for March 22.