Georgia’s planned ban on commercial surrogacy could impact women

3 min read

Elena*, who resides in Tbilisi, Georgia, has opted to become a surrogate mother for the second time as a means to support her family. Her decision stems from the need to cover costly medical treatments and therapies for her daughter’s health condition. Elena expressed that working as a surrogate mother has been a significant financial relief for her family.

However, a potential ban on commercial surrogacy in Georgia may jeopardize this source of income for Elena and other surrogate mothers. The government’s proposal aims to restrict foreign couples from accessing commercial surrogacy services in the country, with implementation scheduled for next year. Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili stated that the ban is intended to protect surrogate mothers and children, prevent human trafficking, and ensure compliance with Georgian legislation that prohibits same-sex couples from parenting.

Under the proposed legislation, non-commercial surrogacy services will only be permitted on the basis of altruism and exclusively for Georgian couples. The bill also includes provisions for compensating medical examination and labor-related expenses. If approved, this law will take effect on January 1 next year.

This move is seen by some analysts as part of Georgia’s conservative government’s broader political agenda. They suggest it may also be influenced by populism, with the government aiming to align its policies with societal expectations on sensitive issues like surrogacy.

The surrogacy sector in Georgia faces additional challenges, including the impact of the conflict in Ukraine and alleged human trafficking scandals. Last month, a major fertility clinic in Greece faced allegations of exploiting nearly 200 surrogate mothers from various countries, including Ukraine, Romania, and Georgia, leaving intended parents and babies in a legal limbo.

The conflict in Ukraine briefly disrupted surrogacy operations in the country, which was once considered Europe’s largest surrogacy hub. Ukrainian surrogates relocated to countries like North Cyprus, Greece, and Georgia, putting pressure on these nations with less robust legal frameworks. Consequently, the costs of surrogacy have increased globally for intended parents.

While commercial surrogacy is illegal in many European countries, it is permitted in Ukraine and Georgia. Prior to the war in Ukraine, approximately 2,000 babies were born through surrogacy in the country.

The conflict in Ukraine posed challenges for surrogate mothers and intended parents, with difficulties in travel and logistics. However, digital tools helped clinics like BioTexCom adapt and continue their operations. Georgia absorbed some of the foreign clientele, leading to increased pressure on surrogacy programs in other countries.

As surrogacy becomes more common for couples, analysts call for increased regulation and protective measures. They emphasize the need for providers to ensure surrogate mothers are well cared for and suggest that governments worldwide should address this growing industry’s regulatory gaps.

In Georgia, surrogate mother Elena expressed sadness at the prospect of a ban on surrogacy for foreign patients, seeing it as discrimination. She believes that everyone should have the right to have a child regardless of nationality, and she values the opportunity to help couples fulfill their dreams of parenthood.

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