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Childless Foreign Couples Flocking to Ukraine

Offering legal surrogacy at affordable prices, the country become a mecca for childless couples from the West.

14 February 2018

So many foreign couples are coming to Ukraine for surrogate births that “it's like a conveyor belt,” a young Ukrainian who carried another woman’s child tells the BBC.

 

Demand for surrogacy in Ukraine "has increased probably 1000 percent in the last two years alone," Sam Everingham of an Australian surrogacy advisory group said.

 

Demand for Ukrainian surrogates ballooned when the practice was gradually banned in countries such as India, Nepal, and Thailand starting three years ago, the BBC writes.

 

The procedure typically costs from $30,000 to $45,000 in Ukraine, with the surrogate mother receiving around $15,000 – the equivalent of several years’ earnings in a typical job. Aside from a price about one-third of what a couple would pay in the United States, Ukraine also recognizes the “intending parents” as the baby’s biological parents. There have been some, unverified, stories of shoddy practices at surrogacy clinics but overall the system appears to be working well, the BBC says, although the chairwoman of the Ukrainian parliamentary committee on health, Olga Bogomolets, believes the industry is not sufficiently regulated.

 

A Ukrainian mother attending a breastfeeding training session organized by UNICEF. Image via UNICEF/Ukraine/2015/A.Krepkih.

 

About 6,000 children were born via surrogates over the last decade in Ukraine, according to the Ukrainian Association of Reproductive Medicine, the Huffington Post reported last year, still far fewer than in the United States. Foreign couples made up 70 percent of cases.

 

Another factor boosting Ukraine as a surrogacy destination is that commercial surrogacy is legal in only a handful of countries: Russia and Georgia are the only other European countries that permit it.

 

It is also done informally in the Czech Republic, where clinics in Prague offer packages including flights, hotels, and three IVF attempts for as low as $30,000, HuffPost says.

 

 

  • Bogomolets, a doctor, believes the “rapid fall in living standards” is attracting young women into surrogacy. Ukraine is one of Europe’s poorest countries.

 

  • Only women who already have a child of their own can be hired as surrogates in Ukraine, the BBC says.

 

  • The Hague Conference on Private International Law, an intergovernmental institution comprising 82 members, including all EU member states and the EU itself, is drafting an international convention on transnational surrogacy, Sophia Kuby of the religious freedom organization ADF wrote recently for EurActiv.

Compiled by Ky Krauthamer

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