P–068 Legal regulation of medically assisted reproduction treatment in the C.I.S. (former USSR) countries and cross-border reproductive care


The comparative study of legislation of 11 C.I.S. republics shows that new independent states that emerged after the collapse of the USSR share common “soviet” history, but nevertheless reveal considerable differences in approach towards legal regulation of assisted reproductive technologies (ART).

5 countries (Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kirgizia, Moldova, Tajikistan) view assisted reproduction through a wider context of reproductive rights and reproductive health. Special legislation regulating most, but not all aspects of ART is in place.

In 5 countries (Azerbaijan, Belarus, Russian Federation, Turkmenistan, Ukraine) there are no any specific laws on ART. Assisted reproduction to some extent is regulated by various laws – i.e. Family Code, Health law and directives of Health ministries, leaving some “grey” areas. In Turkmenistan for instance egg/sperm/embryo donation, as well as genetic material storage are not covered by law, surrogacy is considered human trafficking.

One country (Uzbekistan) still lacks any legislation concerning ART, it's not mentioned in the law at all.

There are no specific regulating authorities, registries for ART procedures – if any – are voluntary.

The legislation varies widely from one country to another, leaving sometimes blank areas (i.e. legal status of embryo, sex selection, gametes ownership issue, surrogacy for single intended parents, post-mortem reproduction), avoiding these potentially conflictive issues.

In spite of lack of a “special” law on ART the country with most liberal related law-applying practice is Russia, where courts follow the rule “what's not prohibited, is permitted”, making it possible to become parents through surrogacy even for unmarried couples and single men and women. Russia is working on a special bill to make its liberal legislation on ART more clear.

There might be some controversies in national legislation. Surrogacy is perfectly legal in Azerbaijan according to the Family Code, but according to the law against human trafficking the same surrogacy is considered exploitation and so is against the law.

Unclear legal situation, differences in legal regulation of ART lead to cross-border reproductive travel. Patients have to cross national borders trying to get access to techniques prohibited or not available for them in their native countries because of their sex, marital status or age. So, intended parents from the countries where surrogacy is not regulated (e.g. Moldova, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan) or is against the law (Turkmenistan) go to the states where it's legal to become parents through surrogacy, preferring countries where a gestational surrogate can't legally keep the child she delivered (Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kirgizia, Ukraine).

Reproductive tourism exists even between countries with similar legislation. Some Russian couples head for Ukraine to arrange for their surrogacy program as a Ukrainian surrogate by law can't keep the child. At the same time Ukrainian couples who need surrogacy in combination with embryo donation, couples who are not officially married and single Ukrainians of both sexes who want to become parents through surrogacy come to Russia as genetic link, marital status and sex are irrelevant when arranging a surrogacy program there.

Intended parents who would like to save on egg donation when arranging a surrogacy program might go to Armenia where it's explicitly allowed to use surrogate's eggs.

There is a clear need for harmonization of legislation and equal standards, as all patients willing to become parents through ART should have equal access to required techniques at home. The patients should have at least access to information as for possibilities existing in neighboring countries, as well as legal peculiarities and disadvantages in the country where their reproductive program might take place.

Legislators should do their best to save their compatriots travelling abroad from potential dangers and to avoid any harm for the children born through ART.