Russia’s lower house of parliament on Thursday approved a bill banning foreigners from using Russian surrogate mothers.
The bill adopted by the State Duma states that only married Russian citizens or single Russian women who cannot give birth to a child for medical reasons will be allowed to use the services of surrogate mothers.
Commercial surrogacy is legal in Russia, but religious groups have criticized the practice as too commercial and have linked it to crime.
Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of the parliament, said Thursday’s decision was made to protect Russian children. According to Volodin, writing in Telegram last week, some 45,000 babies born to surrogate mothers have been taken abroad in “the last few years”.
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Proponents of the bill have often associated surrogacy with child trafficking and the trade in organs. They have also criticized the use of surrogates by same-sex couples.
“The purpose of the law is to ban surrogacy for foreign citizens. Who comes? We don’t know. Where are the children taken? We don’t know either. These are our children,” Volodin told the Duma.
“They can be taken to be used for (transplantation) organs, in same-sex families. It is prohibited by law to take our children out. The children will automatically receive Russian citizenship immediately and will be protected,” he said. added.
Under the bill approved on Thursday, couples in which one spouse is a Russian citizen will still be able to use Russian surrogate mothers. It stipulated that a child born to a surrogate mother in Russia would automatically be granted Russian citizenship.
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To become federal law, the bill must be approved by the Federation Council, the upper house of parliament, and signed by President Vladimir Putin.