Surrogacy During the War in Ukraine

Updated September 6, 2022

See Ukraine as International Surrogacy Destination for context on the surrogacy industry in Ukraine

The Russian war on Ukraine is having a devastating effect on millions of people and the country’s infrastructure and land. One lesser-known area of anguish is the impact on newborn surrogacy-born babies, surrogates and their families, and the babies’ parents from other countries. Ukraine is one of the largest hubs for international surrogacy in the world, second only to the United States. Minimal regulation and low cost make it a popular destination for foreign couples—though only available to married heterosexual couples—and economic hardship gives rise to more women willing to provide surrogacy services. This roundup of articles presents a number of stories of harrowing and dangerous situations for infants, surrogates, and new or soon-to-be parents as well as analyses regarding the invisibility of surrogates in media coverage and the unequal options and resources available to commissioning parents vs surrogates in Ukraine.

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How Your Company Can Help You Pay for Starting a Family

Kathryn Vasel | CNN Business | August 24, 2022

Employers have become progressively more inclusive with their family-building benefits, with an estimated one-third of large employers offering family-planning support to LGBTQ and single workers.

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The Surrogacy Industry Braces for a Post-Roe World

David Dodge | The New York Times | August 23, 2022

Concerned about losing access to pregnancy care, and fearful of legal consequences, surrogates and those who work with them are rewriting contracts and changing the way they operate. 

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Ukraine’s Surrogate Mothers Carry Foreigners’ Babies as Debate Grows Over Who Bears the Risks and Rewards

Janice Dickson | The Globe and Mail | August 19, 2022

In Ukraine, commercial surrogacy agencies are pairing foreign clients with Ukrainian surrogates again, even as the war continues. The Globe and Mail interviews multiple surrogates who say they need the money but are worried about their safety amidst the war.

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Maine Voices: Surrogacy Process Throws Dobbs Ruling Into Sharp Relief

Erin Cherald | The Press Herald | July 19, 2022

Following the US ruling on abortion, a former surrogate shares the details of her contract  that explicitly outlined the risks and her rights during pregnancy. She emphasizes that anti-abortion laws requiring a woman to give birth against her will are exploitation.

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Three, Single Gay Dads Reflect on Fatherhood, Surrogacy Journeys

Alana Wise | NPR | June 19, 2022

NPR covers the stories of three single, gay men who became fathers through surrogacy and their journey there

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An Actor’s Use of a Surrogate Raises Radical-Feminist Questions

Alyssa Rosenberg | The Washington Post | June 15, 2022

Actress Jamie Chung explained that she and her partner chose surrogacy because she didn’t “want to lose opportunities.” The author of this opinion piece feels Chung’s perspective echoes radical feminist Shulamith Firestone, who believed that biology imprisoned women.

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Wombs For Rent: The Legalization of Commercial Surrogacy

Reed Pence, Taina Bien-Aimé, Dr. Linda Kahn, and Ashley Mareko | Radio Health Journal | June 12, 2022

This Radio Health Journal episode showcases three voices in surrogacy policy and practice. The Director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women argues that surrogacy is exploitative and can lead to human trafficking. A New York University professor discusses increased risks for pregnancy complications. A three-time surrogate and employee at a surrogacy agency asserts that company policies can safeguard parties in surrogacy arrangements. With no federal surrogacy laws in place, this is a dangerous road to traverse.

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Israel’s Openly Gay Health Minister Talks Conversion Therapies, Surrogacy and Religion

Ravit Hecht | Haaretz | June 8, 2022

Israel’s openly gay Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz comments on the new law legalizing surrogacy for gay male couples in Israel. He maintains that surrogacy should be equally accessible for all, with safeguards against exploitation. 

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Wartime Labour: How Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Has Exposed the Reality of the Surrogacy Industry

Anna Feigenbaum | Globe and Mail | May 20, 2022

The war in Ukraine not only illuminates the complexities inherent in international surrogacy, but also requires us to confront broader issues raised by this form of reproduction: how to prevent exploitation of women on the one hand while simultaneously ensuring women have bodily autonomy, and how we think about parenthood, genetic connection, and race and reproduction.

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