Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Surrogacy amidst the corona virus pandemic lockdowns

The coronavirus pandemic isn't only a story about disease, it's also a story about lockdowns, and restrictions on travel (among other things), especially international travel.  This is having a big, unintended effect on surrogacy markets, as surrogate pregnancies begun before the pandemic come to term. Here are two stories about the situation in the U.S. and in Ukraine.

The Guardian has the story about surrogacy in the U.S.:

Surrogates left holding the baby as coronavirus rules strand parents
The US surrogacy business is in turmoil, with parents overseas unable to pick up their baby and others unable to leave America

"Commercial surrogacy is legal in some US states, making it a hotspot for parents looking to have children through assisted reproduction. But the coronavirus travel ban has seen President Trump close the country’s borders to almost all international visitors, while a nationwide US passport office shutdown has made it impossible for parents who do manage to get into the country to obtain the necessary documentation to take their children home.

"As a result, babies are being born without their parents present at the birth (immigration authorities will only let parents in once the surrogate has given birth to the child). In at least one case, a mother flew from France to attend the birth of her child, only to be turned back by border control. Some parents aren’t being allowed in the country at all.

"Surrogates and surrogacy agencies are scrambling to look after babies themselves."
"The solution, Brisman says, is for the US immigration authorities to allow parents into the US to collect their children, and expedite the process by which they can leave the country. “I would like to see the government allow these people in quickly, and allow them home quickly,” she says. “We need expedited passports, birth certificates and visas for people whose babies are being born.”"

The NY Times has the story from the Ukraine:

100 Babies Stranded in Ukraine After Surrogate Births
Travel bans have prevented the babies’ parents from entering the country. One official says as many as 1,000 babies will be born before restrictions are lifted.

"Dozens of babies born into Ukraine’s booming surrogate motherhood business have become marooned in the country as their biological parents in the United States and other countries cannot travel to retrieve them after birth. For now, the agencies that arranged the surrogate births care for the babies.

"Authorities say that at least 100 babies are stranded already and that as many as 1,000 may be born before Ukraine’s travel ban for foreigners is lifted.

“We will do all we can to unite the children with their parents,” Albert Tochilovsky, director of BioTexCom, the largest provider of surrogacy services in Ukraine, said in a telephone interview.
"Ukraine does not tally statistics on surrogacy, but it may lead the world in the number of surrogate births for foreign biological parents, Mr. Tochilovsky said. His company alone is awaiting about 500 births. Fourteen companies offer the service in Ukraine.

"Ukraine is an outlier among nations, though not alone, in allowing foreigners to tap a broad range of reproductive health services, including buying eggs and arranging for surrogate mothers to bear children for a fee. The business has thrived largely because of poverty.

“The cheapest surrogacy in Europe is in Ukraine, the poorest country in Europe,” BioTexCom’s website explains. Surrogate mothers in Ukraine typically earn about $15,000.

"Some members of Parliament who have long opposed the business have renewed their calls for banning surrogacy services for foreigners now that the babies are stacking up without parents.

"Surrogacy is available in Ukraine only if a woman in a heterosexual partnership can demonstrate that she cannot bear children herself.
"The babies’ parents are now in the United States, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, China, France, Romania, Austria, Mexico and Portugal, the company said.

"Lyudmila Denisova, a human rights ombudsman for Ukraine’s Parliament, said the stranded babies underscore a pressing need for the country to bar foreigners from hiring Ukrainian women as surrogate mothers.

"A human rights official in the presidential administration, Nikolai Kuleba, has also demanded an end to the practice. “Ukraine is just turning into an online store for little ones,” he said."

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