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Spanish families stranded in Ukraine in surrogacy limbo

3 September 2018
Appeared in BioNews 965

Nearly 30 Spanish families are unable to leave Ukraine with their surrogate-born infants, as they have been unable to register the births with the Consular Civil Registry of the Spanish Embassy in Kiev. 

There have been major delays to the previously straightforward process of registering births at the embassy, since July. Without registration, the families are unable to travel home to Spain with their children.

The Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the delays have come after it received intelligence about 'possible cases of medical malpractice related to assisted reproduction procedures' as well as possible cases of 'trafficking of children'.

The ministry maintained that the Spanish Government 'has the duty of preserving and protecting the rights of pregnant women (or biological mothers) involved in this process, regardless of their nationality, as well as protecting the best interest of the newborn'. 

Surrogacy is illegal in Spain, and official advice not to commence 'any gestational surrogacy process has been repeatedly advised and recommended by this ministry for years'.

The Spanish Consulate in Kiev has said it will 'individually tend to the nearly 30 Spanish families located in Ukraine' who have used a surrogate to have a baby since July this year. Part of the work the ministry intends to do with the affected families involves analysing all of their documentation to ensure that both Spanish and Ukranian laws have been respected throughout the surrogacy process.

According to El Pais, so far no applications for registration have actually been rejected. However, but one affected Spanish woman has already been in Ukraine for a month with her baby and has been told she will need to wait until November for a meeting at the consulate. 

In Spanish law, paternity needs to be proven before Spanish nationality can be granted, and this involves a DNA test of the child. These tests are typically carried out at the consulate. 

Franco Antonio Zenna, a lawyer who specialises in surrogacy and is representing some of the couples said that previously the Ukranian surrogate and Spanish father would have been registered as the baby's parents. Once home in Spain, 'the wife would then adopt her husband's child with the prior consent of the surrogate mother'.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Birth Registration Cases with the Consular Civil Registry of the Spanish Embassy in Kiev
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Spain |  29 August 2018
Foreign Ministry advises not to hire 'surrogate mothers' in Ukraine
The Diplomat in Spain |  30 August 2018
Spanish couples undergoing surrogacy processes left in legal limbo in Ukraine
El Pais |  31 August 2018
Spanish families stranded in Ukraine with their surrogate babies
Euronews |  30 August 2018
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