February 23, 2024

Ukraine could ban international surrogacy

A committee of the Ukrainian parliament has proposed a ban on surrogacy for foreigners for the duration of the war with Russia and for three years afterwards.

Bill 6475 defines who is eligible to be a surrogate mother and defines her rights and responsibilities. It also proposes a register of commissioning parents from a different country; bans agencies and brokers from organising international surrogacy; and bans advertising for surrogates.

According to committee member Viktoria Wagnier, a gynaecologist and war widow, the war has been a demographic disaster for Ukraine and by 2030 its population could decrease by 10 million people.

“This field is completely unregulated,” she told the Sunday Times. “Foreigners come here and use Ukrainian women to carry babies, and who knows what happens to these kids afterwards.” Ukraine had become a “touristic mecca” for surrogacy, she complained, which is “not dignified.”

Before the war, Ukraine was a world centre for surrogacy. The surrogacy clinics want to keep it that way. The dangers to the surrogate mothers, to the staff of the clinics, to the intending parents, and to the frozen embryos have not stopped the business. Ukrainian women are still signing up to carry children for foreigners. Alona, a 26-year-old who is pregnant with the child of a British couple, says “I like that I can help them find happiness. And of course, financially it is good too.”

According to the Sunday Times:

In the two years before Russia’s invasion, according to Wagnier, Ukrainian surrogates gave birth to 1,746 children for foreign couples. Since the war began, officials and clinics estimate that hundreds of implantations have been made…

“What’s extraordinary is the sheer number of intended parents who are continuing to engage in Ukraine programmes,” said Sam Everingham, global director of Growing Families, an organisation that supports parents seeking surrogacy. Some couples, he said, were desperate and felt they had no other choice, perhaps because of their age, or because they had run out of funds to start anew. “For people like that, ethics become a secondary consideration,” he said.

The bill would spell disaster for surrogacy clinics and agencies. The medical director of BioTexCom, one of the best-known clinics, Ihor Pechenoha, derides the notion that more Ukrainians will be born if international surrogacy is banned. “It’s nonsense,” he says. “It’s dressed up in patriotism.”

Note: the best source of news about surrogacy in Ukraine is a Substack blog, Ukraine Surrogacy Dispatches, written by Canadian journalist Alison Motluk.