State Duma adopts bill banning services of surrogate mothers in Russia for foreigners
MOSCOW. Dec 8 (Interfax) - The Russian State Duma voted 376-0 with one abstention to adopt a bill in the third reading, banning foreign citizens from using the services of surrogate mothers in Russia.
Under the bill, only a Russian citizen can be a surrogate mother. The ban, however, will not apply to cases when it is an officially registered marriage between a Russian citizen and a foreigner "in order to prevent discrimination against the rights of a Russian citizen because of the spouse's citizenship," the bill's co-author, Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Security and Corruption Control Vasily Piskaryov, said.
An explanatory note to the bill said that one of the most important factors of the high latency of crimes against children in this sphere is that children born to surrogate mothers in Russia do not acquire Russian citizenship because both persons who are a child's biological parents and are named on the birth certificate are not Russian citizens.
Under the bill, such children shall acquire Russian citizenship if they were born to or were carried by a surrogate mother as of the day when the ban on foreigners and non-citizens using the services of surrogate mothers in Russia entered into force.
These rules will apply to situations where potential parents or a single woman unable to carry a pregnancy to term or give birth for medical reasons are foreign citizens or non-citizens.
A child born to a surrogate mother in Russia will also receive Russian citizenship if potential parents or a single woman lost Russian citizenship as of the day of the state registration of the child's birth.
The new rules will not hamper the departure of such children and their parents to their countries of residence, because the sole goal is to create additional mechanisms to protect Russian underage citizens, including those affected by crimes outside Russia, according to the explanatory note.
The fact that such children will acquire Russian citizenship will allow Russia's relevant agencies to keep track of them after they leave Russia, the bill's authors said.
According to Piskaryov, the proposed ban is a last-choice measure, which is needed because after a child born to a surrogate mother in Russia leaves the country, the Russian state can no longer protect his or her rights. Besides, Russia cannot take all measures to ensure that potential foreign parents have no convictions for crimes against minors and to "make sure that their intentions are good."
"And many reports have been received from foreign countries about the unfortunate fate of children born to surrogate mothers who ended up in sexual slavery or were simply abused," he said.
The initiators of the bill are State Duma Deputy Speakers Pyotr Tolstoy and Anna Kuznetsova (both members of the United Russia Party), Vasily Piskaryov, Chairperson of the Committee on Civil Society Development Olga Timofeyeva, and Senator Margarita Pavlova.
It is an important and high-impact issue, State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said during the debate.
"Only a few countries permit surrogacy on a commercial basis and allow citizens of other countries to use this service. And the number of such countries decreases every year. India and Thailand, which just recently were international surrogacy centers, banned foreigners from using these services several years ago," he said.
Volodin said after the vote that "when this bill was discussed and a decision was adopted to review it at a State Duma session, pressure started to be exerted on deputies, the authors of the bill, and the relevant committee."
"If business interests are involved, it entails criminal liability for obstructing the fulfillment by State Duma deputies of their duties and responsibilities," he said.
"These remarks are intended for those who try to discredit deputies by means of phone calls and moves, putting pressure on them. The decision we adopted today is exclusively in the interests of citizens of our country; we protected children. I believe that this is how it should be done. And those who try to apply pressure ought to understand that decency does not mean weakness. Next time, information about such phone calls, which are recorded, will be forwarded further, to the relevant agencies, and these people will then have to explain what interests they have, where and why they behave in this way, breaking the law," Volodin said.