Scandal of the surrogacy industry in Ukraine: let’s put a stop

Over the recent years, Ukraine has become an international hub for the practice of surrogacy, often acting against their own State legislation, due to its competitive prices and its closeness to Europe. The very weak legal restriction of this practice led to the creation of a market of 99 surrogacy clinics throughout the country, “providing” what is estimated to be at least 1000 babies every year.

In practice, surrogacy means the exploitation of poorer women for the purposes of providing a child to richer couples. Ukrainian surrogate mothers are often in a situation of vulnerability, facing economic difficulties, and come to sell their body and their reproductive functions in order to maintain themselves and their family. On the other side, private surrogacy clinics are generating huge benefits from the exploitation of these women, which, in international law, constitutes a situation of human trafficking, and is a clear violation of the dignity and fundamental rights (Article 4 of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings). In addition, the procedure of surrogacy implies medical risks, such as the common lack of post-natal care and an increased risk of postpartum depression, risks that only surrogate women carry, including death.

Back in 2016, FAFCE published a note on the ethical implications and the proposals for legislation concerning the practice of surrogacy. In the same year, a FAFCE Resolution warned on the consequences of this practice, “creating a slippery slope towards the right to a child, and having no respect for human dignity or fundamental ethical principles”. In a recent Press release, FAFCE fully supported the strong appeal made by all the Ukrainian Catholic Bishops to ban all forms of surrogacy. On the 16th of June 2020, FAFCE took part in a Webinar organised by women’s right organisations on “How do we stop reproductive trade in women and children?”.

At the European Parliament, the Intergroup on Demographic Challenges, Family-Work-life Balance and Youth Transitions published a Letter to the European Commission concerning the practice of surrogacy. The Board of the Intergroup reminded that “surrogacy humiliates vulnerable women and their dignity, by commodifying their reproductive functions; by inducing women in need to undergo invasive medical treatment; by imposing contracts where women are legally bound to waive their right to maintain a link with the new-born”. It “calls all governments to put an end to the practice of surrogacy and the trafficking of children” and invites the European Commission to “reiterate in its external action that surrogacy involves the reproductive exploitation and use of the human body for financial or other gain, in particular in the case of vulnerable women in developing countries, undermining women’s dignity and Human rights”.

The practice of surrogacy not only violates the dignity of surrogate mothers, but also forgets to consider the heart of its “business”, the child, whose interest to know and to be raised by its parents (Article 2 §2 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child) are completely overlooked. To protect women’s body from being treated as a mere object and children from being bought as a merchandise, we recall our demand to stop the practice of surrogacy worldwide.