How many more scandals will it take?

Press release ICASM  26 04 2022


As everyone knows, the war in Ukraine has been going on for eight years. Two years ago, the pandemic with the images of those babies stranded in Ukraine revealed the true face of surrogacy to the world. Public opinion was outraged, Ukrainian officials considered putting a stop to it[1]. However, nothing happened, no measures were taken, the market has never been so flourishing, with 3,000 to 5,000 children produced per year for American, German, Canadian, Argentinean, French, Spanish clients…, maybe your neighbours.

Today, the invasion of Ukrainian territory spares no one, neither the surrogate mothers nor the children born of surrogacy, and once again, the sordid and inhuman reality of surrogacy blew up in our faces. Anxious to recover their “property” by all means, without consideration for the mothers abandoned to their fate in a country at war, arrogant commissionning parents snatch the newly born baby, impose anticipated deliveries… Not to be outdone, brokers secretly evacuate embryos and genetic material abroad[2], deliver the newborns to the borders[3], organise the transfer of surrogate mothers to neighbouring countries, Romania, Poland, or even to clients’ own country, move them far from Kiev and far from their families, forbid them get in touch with the commissioning parents  or order them to return to Ukraine if they have taken refuge elsewhere[4], no doubt so as not to lose the financial windfall they provide.

The image of the new-borns in the bunker organised by the Ukrainian broker Biotexcom has been broadcast around the world, with babies aged five or six months, born well before February 2022, forgotten by the clients[5]. In other words, how many motherless, abandoned or trafficked children in this chaos, how many surrogate mothers in total disarray. This scandal is reminiscent of many others, such as the one in Nepal in 2015, where surrogate mothers were left behind on the airport tarmac while planes, in a country devastated by an earthquake, took the “intended parents” back to their countries, their new-borns in their arms.

And the states? Some, such as Ireland[6] and Great Britain[7], under pressure from the commissioning parents, ignoring their own immigration laws, propose to exfiltrate the surrogate mothers and receive them irregularly on their territory; others, such as Spain and France, turn a blind eye to these arrivals of Ukrainian surrogate mothers and trafficked new-born babies without identity. Such displacement of human beings is akin to human trafficking. Having shut their eyes, allowing this globalised market to develop, even indirectly encouraging it, states used such stratagems in favour of their citizens involved in a surrogacy arrangement.

This crisis is not the last; the current situation in Ukraine is just one example. In Asia, countries that had closed their borders to surrogacy are planning to reopen them, such as Thailand, which considers it as a source of foreign currency[8], or Cambodia, on the initiative of the chairman of the committee against human trafficking and Minister of the Interior[9]. In South America, five countries are planning to organise it on their territory. The mafia has not been mistaken in investing in this lucrative business. In Europe, people tend to forget that surrogacy was banned in most countries in the name of human dignity, a value that cements our European pact.

How many crises, how many scandals, how many sacrificed surrogate mothers, how many children bought, sold, trafficked, abandoned will it take for governments to move towards the worldwide abolition of this dehumanising practice?


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