Surrogacy has become increasingly accepted around the world, and developing countries have become hotspots for wealthy couples looking to purchase children along with women to bear them. According to the India Times, the world’s new surrogacy capital is Ukraine.
The India Times explained that advertisements for healthy women of child-bearing age are plastered everywhere throughout Ukraine, including on buses and at the metro. For one pregnancy, surrogates can earn $11,000 and a $250 monthly stipend. It’s an enormous amount of money for women to potentially earn, particularly in Ukraine, where the average yearly salary is $3,000.
Demand has also allegedly skyrocketed after Asian countries like Nepal, India, and Thailand all outlawed commercial surrogacy. In those countries, women were frequently being exploited — and the same is now happening in Ukraine.
“Many women who opted to become surrogates say that the conditions for them are terrible. They are sometimes forced to share a bed with another surrogate mother. Most of the women come from small villages and are in hopeless situations. They spend the first few weeks lying around, crying,” the Times reported. “Women are sometimes not paid promised amounts or are housed in terrible conditions during the later stages of their pregnancies. In some cases, parents have discovered they have no genetic link with children born to surrogates. … The highly profitable and murky business, that many worry, is taking advantage of desperate young women and operating in a grey zone open to abuse.”
Furthermore, children aren’t faring any better after surrogacy, with Mykola Kuleba, Commissioner of the President of Ukraine for Children’s Rights, calling Ukraine an “international online baby store.”
In 2020, shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic began, nearly 50 newborns were placed in a hotel in what was described as a “baby factory,” with parents unable to enter the country to collect their children. The company, BioTexCom Center for Human Reproduction in Kyiv (Kiev), has been accused of human trafficking.
Far too often, surrogate mothers and the children they bring into the world are treated not as human beings, but as products to be sold to the highest bidder. Wealthy foreigners entering a highly impoverished country — Ukraine was the poorest country in Europe as of 2020 — and offering desperate women almost four times the average national salary for the use of their bodies is exploitation.
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