COST OF SURROGACY: $150,000 IN THE UNITED STATES AND $30,000-45,000 IN UKRAINE
A WOMAN EARNS $20,000 FOR BEING A SURROGATE MOTHER COMPARED TO A NORMAL JOB THAT PAYS $200/MONTH
THERE IS AN ESTIMATE OF 500 SURROGATES PER YEAR; 1000% INCREASE SINCE 2 YEARS AGO
Source: Families Through Surrogacy (2018)
WHAT IS HAPPENING?
In short, surrogacy is an arrangement where a woman agrees to carry a pregnancy for another person (or persons), who will become the newborn child’s parent(s) after birth. Due to the low cost and lack of regulations in developing countries, couples or individuals who desire children but are unable to have them often seek surrogate mothers there.
However, popular surrogacy destinations in Asia have started to tighten their rules. In 2015, Thailand barred foreigners from paying for surrogacy. Subsequently, Nepal and India, where surrogacy had been a thriving business, also barred foreign clients. Yet, instead of ending the trade, this only led to businesses relocating to other parts of the world, namely the Africa continent, Greece, and Ukraine.
WHY DOES IT HAPPEN?
Women in Ukraine who opt to be surrogate mothers are often poor and illiterate. As such, surrogacy offers are attractive as they can earn an amount equivalent to ten years’ wages for a single pregnancy. Olga Bogomolets, a doctor and MP who chairs Ukraine’s parliamentary committee on health, attributed the draw to surrogacy to the drop in living standards in the country. Partly due to the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine between the military and Russia- backed separatists, the country was hit with recession in 2014-2015.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS?
Some women who are illiterate may not understand the contracts they are signing and should they fall into the hands of unscrupulous clinics, multiple embryos might be placed in the women’s wombs to increase the chances of conceiving despite higher health risks. Overused Caesarean sections and neglected post-partum care have also been highlighted as issues.
Even if the surrogates are not illiterate, the risks are still serious. For example, 21-year-old Ana is not poor by local standards, but was drawn to surrogacy because she wanted to afford house renovations and a car. After her first successful embryo implantation, Ana said that the quality of care provided by the clinic went downhill quickly. Some surrogates had health problems that were not treated on time, leading to health complications. There are also Ukrainian agencies who have ill-treated surrogates when things don’t work out to the benefit of the intended parents, such as refusing to pay the surrogate if she miscarries.