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Russian Invasion of Ukraine – Impact on Surrogacy

We have all watched in horror the images of a war on civilians, including children, as images of maiming, destruction and death are spread across our media.  We honour our brave Ukrainian colleagues who have risked their lives to get the gametes and embryos of clients to safety and into neighbouring countries.  Some countries have stepped up and given refuge to pregnant surrogates, although the legal consequences of those surrogates giving birth in those third countries are still unknown.  As soon as the war stops and our Ukrainian colleagues return to their clinics and are able to safely offer their services, we will return with our clients to support them – morally and financially. 

A fact that is known is that before February 2022, Ukraine met a large proportion of the worldwide international surrogacy market.  My estimate based on anecdotal evidence is that it provided surrogates to 60% of the international market.  In a matter of days after 24 February, that market was closed.  Concurrently, Russian prosecutors have been strictly enforcing their new interpretation of Russian surrogacy laws and together with the moral choice of intended parents to avoid going to Russia, the surrogacy market in Russia has collapsed for international intended parents.

Through 2020 and 2021, it has become increasingly challenging to secure a surrogate in the United States of America.  See the attached New York Times article.  Vaccine hesitancy among prospective surrogates and the impact of the pandemic on the US economy have led to waiting times of up to 18 months to be matched with a surrogate and a significant increase in the compensation being sought by surrogate mothers.

As a consequence of all these events, we have experienced a massive upsurge in enquiries and engagements by clients.  My prediction is that the shortage of surrogates will be felt across all jurisdictions for international surrogacy during the latter half of 2022.  In these circumstances, it is more important than ever to carefully consider the surrogacy agencies and providers you are engaging.  All those businesses that were providing surrogacy services are now facing a significant downturn in income, and as has happened when Thailand and India closed their programs to international parents, the businesses will seek quick alternatives in countries with unregulated industries.