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Ukraine Has Unintentionally Become A Hotbed For Surrogacy Tourism

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Finding a surrogate in the UK can be a difficult pursuit, with laws around surrogacy giving the majority of rights to the surrogate. Legal contracts cannot be enforced, and surrogates cannot be paid except for reasonable expenses, which means that upon having the baby the surrogate has full maternal rights to the child even if she has no biological connection to it. With surrogacy legislation so complicated in the UK, many couples choose to go abroad to look for a surrogate.

While surrogacy tourism has been banned in India, Nepal and Thailand – former hotspots for the industry – amidst exploitation claims, other countries have slowly popped up to take their place. One surprising example is Ukraine, where a series of liberal laws has unintentionally created a thriving surrogacy industry.

It’s cheaper than the US, where surrogacy contracts are also legal, and recognises the ‘intending parents’ as biological parents from the moment of conception. While there is no price limit on how much a surrogate can be paid, allowing women to demand their chosen price, the country's declining economy and living standards mean that prices are low in comparison to the rest of the world.

According to Sam Everingham of Families Through Children, demand for surrogacy in Ukraine ‘has increased probably 1000% in the last two years alone’. He told the BBC that the country ‘has found itself almost accidently as one of the handful of nation states’ that allow surrogacy tourism.

However, there are an abundance of health concerns surrounding the industry. With reports of surrogates being mistreated, embryos being secretly swapped and poor health care once the women is pregnant, the surrogacy industry is fraught with apprehension. Everingham continued:

‘We have seen examples where Ukrainian agencies have refused to pay the surrogate if she doesn't adhere to strict requirements, or if she miscarries. There are some awful examples where agencies really treated surrogates dreadfully in Ukraine if things haven't worked out to the benefit of parents.’

Clinics are also thought to have paid parents to leave positive reviews online, where the majority of would-be parents are getting their information. Surrogates have to be meticulous with choosing their clinic, for fear of being misdiagnosed, not treated on time for health conditions and having further complications that could result in them not being paid for the service.

There is also the issue of re-entering the UK once the child has been born, which can take between 4-5 months depending on certain conditions such as how soon you submit visa applications.

So, while the lack of surrogacy laws in Ukraine might seem beneficial at first, it has created an unregulated industry which puts both surrogates and expecting parents at risk. You only have to look at the logic behind some the legislation to be skeptical. One particular requirement in Ukraine is that the woman must already have given birth, based on the notion that they are less likely to be attached to the child if they already have one of their own.

It’s rationales like this which are raising eyebrows over the growing industry, and while it is a cheaper option it is by no means an easier one.

Find out more information about surrogacy abroad here.

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