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20 Jan, 2021 15:31

Nine years after Russia banned foreigners from adopting children, Moscow moves to ban them from using surrogate mothers

Nine years after Russia banned foreigners from adopting children, Moscow moves to ban them from using surrogate mothers

A group of MPs is planning to ban single people and foreigners from using Russian surrogate mothers to have children. The legislators claim they are protecting the institution of marriage.

According to Pyotr Tolstoy, the deputy chairman of the State Duma and a United Russia party MP, the practice of surrogacy “creates a direct and indirect possibility of harming national interests.” If the bill is passed, it will restrict the use of a surrogate to married couples between the age of 25 and 55 who cannot have children for medical reasons.

The potential parents would also have to have a Russian passport or residence permit, ending the practice of foreigners using Russian surrogate mothers. The bill’s authors claim that “surrogacy has become a legal, cheap and unhindered way to overcome the ban” on adopting children born in Russia by foreigners, which was prohibited in 2012.

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Speaking to Moscow’s RBK Daily, Tolstoy explained that the idea for the legislation arose out of the Covid-19 lockdown. Last year, because of the pandemic, many foreign couples did not come to Russia to pick up their newborn babies. “Today, we have several hundred kids who have ended up without identity documents and whose fate is in question,” he said.

Also speaking to RBK Daily, Oksana Pushkina, an MP from the ruling United Russia party who is known for her liberal views, criticized the proposal. She claims that limiting the access of single people to surrogacy services contradicts the basic norms of the country’s constitution. According to Pushkina, being single is no reason to be discriminated against.

“Denying the opportunity to become a mom or dad is a crime. A huge number of children are raised by only one parent,” she said. “If we follow the logic of the authors of the bill, then such children should be taken away from single parents because this is an ‘unconventional family.’”

Pushkina is well known for offering opinions outside the norm of her party. She has gained a reputation for her progressive stance, and recently made international headlines after defending the country’s LGBT community. A former TV host and children’s rights activist, she was recently recognized by British state broadcaster the BBC in its 100 Women 2020 list, highlighting her support for journalists who made sexual harassment claims against fellow MP Leonid Slutsky.

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