Ukraine looks to ban commercial surrogacy for foreigners


Ukraine, home to a booming surrogacy industry, is looking to put a stop to the exploitation of its women with new legislation banning commercial surrogacy for foreigners.

According to The Times, a group of Ukrainian politicians has introduced a bill banning foreign surrogacy. Currently, Ukraine is the second-most popular location in the world for foreign couples seeking surrogates. Yet many of the people in Ukraine are living in extreme poverty, making them even more susceptible to exploitation from wealthy foreigners — and as the bill’s backers point out, the surrogacy industry is largely unregulated.

“Foreigners come here and use Ukrainian women to carry babies, and who knows what happens to these kids afterwards,” MP Viktoria Wagnier, a gynecologist, war widow, and one of the bill’s authors told The Times. Ukraine, she said, has become a “tourist mecca” for surrogacy.

BioTexCom, one of the most well-known surrogacy facilities in Ukraine, makes millions of dollars a year, according to CNN. Yet it has been accused of human trafficking in the past and has come under criticism for its surrogacy regime, which has continued despite the Russian war.

“A video was spread on social media and shared via a website of one of Kyiv clinics,” Liudmila Denisova, human rights ombudsman for the Ukrainian parliament, previously told the Daily Mail. “It showed 46 babies who are currently in one of the Kyiv hotels. All these babies were born by surrogate mothers for citizens of various foreign states. This video confirms that the situation with the provision of surrogacy services by this clinic is mass and systemic, and surrogacy technologies are advertised and presented as ‘high-quality goods.’”

In the CNN interview, one surrogate admitted she worked with BioTexCom purely because it offered the chance to make $20,000.

“The financial situation in our family is bad. We’ve got big problems,” she said as she — at the time of the interview — was in her third trimester. “So I have to help my husband earn money. We’ve got used to [the baby.] We’ve been playing with her, talking with her, treat her as our own child. So it’s not like it’s simply a purse, to make money. We feel for her, as if our own.”

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CNN pointed out that, oddly, the number of people using surrogates in Ukraine has increased with the Russian war, not decreased.

Other countries, like India and Thailand, have made similar rules as the one proposed in Ukraine right now to keep their citizens from being exploited by foreign couples — and babies abandoned because the parents changed their minds. And according to the Kyiv Post, the number of foreign couples using surrogates is triple the number of Ukrainian couples. “The market was not organized,” Sergii Antonov, a lawyer and the head of Ukraine’s Medical and Reproductive Law Center, said, adding, “It’s a wild market.”

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