Ukrainian MPs propose banning foreigners from surrogacy amid war
Ukrainian MPs argue that as long as the war continues, foreigners should not be allowed to use Ukrainian surrogate mothers. However, it also wants to liberalise the legislation for LGBT couples. The surrogacy industry reacts sharply.
The members of the parliamentary committee, who come from different parties, propose prohibiting foreigners from using Ukrainian surrogate mothers’ services during the period of martial law and three years after.
Draft law 6475-D, published earlier this month, also discloses requirements for a Ukrainian woman who wants to be a surrogate mother and creates a legal basis for keeping records of intended parents from abroad. According to Interfax, it also prohibits the work of intermediaries or agencies in surrogate motherhood.
“This field is completely unregulated”, says Viktoria Vahnier — an MP from President Zelensky’s Servant of the People party — one of the authors of the bill to the British Times. “Foreigners come here and use Ukrainian women to carry babies, and who knows what happens to these kids afterwards.”
The bill meets little approval from the surrogacy industry. According to the Times, surrogacy clinics say the law goes too far and will destroy the industry. “It’s nonsense,” said Ihor Pechenoha, a medical director at a Biotexcom clinic, one of the largest surrogacy organisations in the war-torn country. According to him, the proposal is “dressed up in patriotism.”
Vahnier, however, thinks the legislation is necessary to establish clear rules over surrogacy and other reproductive processes — including IVF — and assigning criminal responsibility when they are broken. Ukraine has become a “touristic Mecca” for surrogacy, she says. “It is not dignified.”
Besides restrictions, however, the parliamentary committee also wants to broaden the possibilities for surrogacy: where previously only heterosexual couples could hire a surrogate mother, it should now also become possible for foreign-married gay couples to use surrogacy. Law 6475-D indicates that married couples from abroad can use surrogate mothers. In reference to the Ukrainian law around international private law, which recognises all foreign forms of marriage, it thus paves the way for LGBT married couples.
The Ukrainian parliament will now have to vote on the law proposal in the coming months.
For foreigners, Ukraine is one of the most popular destinations to get a child via surrogacy. Although certain states in the United States, notably California, have long experience with commercial surrogacy, many foreigners divert to Ukraine since the costs of a surrogacy process are roughly three times lower.
Another factor of Ukraine’s popularity for intended parents is that it is one of the few countries in the world which “legislation inherently recognises the couple that commissioned the surrogacy process as the legal parents of the child.”
Surrogate mothers were regularly faced with the choice between fleeing or staying in the war-affected country. That meant they had to choose between their own family and the child they were carrying for intended parents. Leaving Ukraine would mean legal uncertainty, as other countries often recognise surrogate mothers as biological mothers. Remaining in Ukraine would avoid legal wrangling but potentially expose mother and child to violence.
Numerous agencies moved their operations to other Eastern European countries, such as Georgia, which also has liberal legislation around surrogacy. Anika König, a professor of Gender and Diversity at the Free University of Berlin, published an article on Monday in which she analyses the effects of the full-scale Russian invasion to the Ukrainian surrogacy industry. She argues that one aspect of the current fertility industry is that it can react to sudden changes flexibly. Although the outbreak of war temporarily halted new surrogacy arrangements, the industry is now again “in full swing.”
Czech MPs call for ban on commercial surrogacy
Experts worldwide sound the alarm on surrogacy