Surrogacy in Belarus: legal aspects
What do you know about Belarus? Most probably, you have a vision of Post-Soviet Union Country that is little known and even secretive. Another option is that you have no idea what is this and where is this at all. Today in our article we are going to break your stereotypes about this mysterious country.
Over the last decade, Belarus has changed beyond recognition, became a really modern and developed in all aspects country. The capital of Belarus Minsk for sure can be considered as European city with its own authentic Slavic traditions that have been maintained here for generations. Moreover, we believe that this country has tremendous potential in medical tourism, as it has a lot of sanatoriums, clinics, hospitals and other medical facilities, combined with clear air and natural complexes, such as caves, forests and lakes.
Is surrogacy legal in Belarus?
With regard to IVF treatment and surrogacy program in Belarus, we discovered, that besides high-qualified specialists and advanced technologies, this country has one more incalculable value – extremely good legal regulation in assisted reproductive technologies field that does not exist either in Ukraine, not in Georgia or anywhere else, where surrogacy is popular nowadays.
Surrogacy in Belarus regulated by numerous legal acts, such as:
the Civil Code,
the Code of the Republic of Belarus on Marriage and Family,
Law On Assisted Reproductive Technologies No.341-3 dated 07 of January, 2012,
Resolution of the Council of Ministers of 14.12.2005 No. 1454 “On the procedure for organizing work with citizens in the bodies registering acts of civil status on issuing certificates or other documents containing confirmation of facts of legal significance” (as amended on November 22, 2014; hereinafter Resolution No. 1454 );
Resolution of the Ministry of Health dated 01.06.2012 No. 54 “On some issues of the use of assisted reproductive technologies” ( Decision No. 54 );
Decision of the Constitutional Court of 28.12.2011 No. P-673/2011 “On the Compliance of the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus with the Law of the Republic of Belarus “On Assisted Reproductive Technologies ”, aimed at the realization by citizens of reproductive rights that are a guarantee of the constitutional right to motherhood and fatherhood etc.
Surrogacy as a medical care
First of all, we would like to mention, that surrogacy, as well as IVF treatment, is considered in Belarus as a medical care, what is specified in Law On Assisted Reproductive Technologies No.341-3 dated 07 of January, 2012.
That’s why everybody who decided to use this services should have strict medical reasons for it, it doesn’t matter if the Couple from Belarus or from foreign country.
In this Law we can also find a legal definition of surrogacy in Belarus, stated as a type of assisted reproductive technology consisting in connecting a sperm cell and an egg removed from the organism of the genetic mother or egg-donor, developing of an embryo resulting from this compound outside the woman and further transferring of the embryo into the uterus of a surrogate mother, bearing the child and giving birth to it.
Who can have a surrogate mother in Belarus?
In Belarus surrogacy is allowed for:
– heterosexual married couples, who need surrogacy due to the medical reasons;
– single woman if she is not able to carry pregnancy because of certain medical reasons AND she is still able to provide her own oocytes for fertilization. This condition is very important, because the child should be genetically related at least to one of the parents. In case there is only one parent (single woman), this parent should have genetic link to the child born via surrogacy.
Is there an age limit for Intended Parents?
In Belarus it is forbidden to make IVF and artificial insemination for women with age more than 50 y.o. Clinics in Belarus do not make surrogacy programs for Intended Mothers with age more than 50 y.o. There are no age restrictions for Intended Fathers.
Origin of the surrogacy child
The art.52 of the Code of the Republic of Belarus on Marriage and Family identifies the filiation of the child, born as a result of the use of assisted reproductive technologies (IVF or surrogacy).
For instance, it is strictly regulated, that in case of IVF treatment with egg-donation a woman who has given birth to a child is recognized as a mother even if the child is conceived from an egg removed from the body of another woman, with the exception of the birth of a child by a surrogate mother.
Who is considered as parents of a baby born via surrogacy?
In case of surrogacy, the mother of a child born by a surrogate mother is a woman who has a surrogate motherhood contract with a surrogate mother (Intended Mother). The father of a child born to a surrogate mother is the spouse of a woman who has entered into a surrogate motherhood contract with the surrogate mother (Intended Father).
If a woman who has entered into a surrogate motherhood agreement with a surrogate mother is not married, information about the father of the child is recorded in the birth certificate in the manner prescribed by the first part of Article 55 of this Code (by the mother’s surname, and the father’s own name and patronymic that is written according to mother’s instructions).
Also, it is written in the Code that donors have no rights to the child, born as result of IVF: persons who have become donor of egg cells that have been used in the application of assisted reproductive technologies are not entitled to dispute the motherhood and / or paternity of a child born as a result of assisted reproductive technologies treatment.
Protection of Intended Parent’s rights
As we can see, the rights of Intended Parents in case of Surrogacy in Belarus are protected quite well, as neither the surrogate mother nor the egg/sperm donor are eligible to claim any parental rights to the child, born using assisted reproductive technologies.
Furthermore, law of Belarus provides the possibility to use surrogacy services not only for married heterosexual couples, as it for example allowed in Ukraine, but for a single woman (single, never married, divorced), that is a very good possibility for some women to have a baby, almost impossible anywhere else in the world. Sounds very human, doesn’t it?
Another very interesting thing is that according to p.13.2. of the Order of Health Ministry of Republic Belarus No.168 dated 16.12.2010 On establishing of forms of Medical certificate of birth, Medical certificate of death (stillbirth) and Instruction of its filling, in the case of surrogacy in the Medical certificate of birth must be included the surname, first name, and patronymic (if exist) of the woman who entered into the surrogate motherhood contract, who is not the surrogate mother (the woman who concluded the surrogate motherhood contract) fit in with the established procedure.
It means, that Belarusian government has a policy of the strict protection of the medical confidentiality about Surrogacy between Patients and the Maternity hospital, as surrogate mother is not mentioned neither in Medical certificate of birth nor in legal certificate of birth, issued by Belarusian Civil Registrar office. So, in reality Intended Mother will have the same documentation (medical and legal) after surrogacy process, as any other woman, who had delivered baby naturally.
Medical reasons for Surrogacy in Belarus
As we noted before, there must be medical reasons for using surrogacy motherhood in Belarus, that are stipulated by Order of Heath Ministry of Republic Belarus No.54 dated 01.06.2012 (with changes). The list of such Medical Indications for Intended Mother is following:
1.1. absence of the uterus (congenital or acquired);
1.2. deformation of the cavity or cervix with congenital malformations or as a result of diseases;
1.3. synechia uterus, not amenable to therapy;
1.4. somatic diseases in which you detect pregnancy is contraindicated;
1.5. unsuccessful attempts of in vitro fertilization when repeatedly receiving high quality embryos.
Meanwhile, the sex selection of future baby is strictly forbidden, except the cases when inheritable diseases connected with specific sex chromosome can occur in future and it is not possible to detect it by ultrasound checking of fetus.
Who can be a surrogate mother?
Among other things, Belarusian legislation has a lot of requirements to the Surrogate Mother. A surrogate mother can be only a married woman (that unfortunately, makes impossible to use surrogacy for some countries, such as German or United Kingdom, because it can cause difficulties in the Consulate during obtaining citizenship and passport of a baby), aged from 20 to 35 years old, who has no medical contraindications to surrogate motherhood, has a child, and who at the time of signing a surrogate motherhood contract:
- she was not recognized by the court as incapable or partially capable;
- not deprived by the court of parental rights and was not limited to them;
- she was not removed from the duties of a guardian, a trustee for improper performance of the duties assigned to her;
- is not a former adopter, if the adoption is canceled by the court due to her fault;
- not condemned for committing a grave, especially grave crime against a person;
- is not suspected or accused in a criminal case.
A surrogate mother cannot at the same time be an egg donor (s) in relation to a woman who has entered into a surrogate motherhood contract.
Based on such bid list of requirements, Intended Parents can be sure, that Belorussian Surrogates have not only a good health conditions, but a crystal-clean biographies.
Essential conditions of Surrogacy agreement
We really believe, that the rights of Surrogate Mother are protected in Belarus better than anywhere in the World, as this is the only one country, which determined essential conditions of Surrogacy agreement under the law. For example, it is specified in the Law On Assisted Reproductive Technologies No.341-3 dated 07.01.2012, that the Surrogacy agreement must be notarized and must contain the following:
- rendering one woman (a surrogate mother) to another woman (a genetic mother or a woman using a donor egg) to bear and give birth to a child (children) conceived (conceived) with the participation of an egg (eggs) removed from the organism of the genetic mother, or a donor egg (s);
- the number of embryos that will be transferred to the uterus of the surrogate mother;
- an indication of the organization (s) of health care in which (which) the sperm (sperm) and ovum (s) are seized (removed) from the organism of the genetic mother or donor egg (s), transfer of the embryo (s) to the surrogate uterus mother, monitoring the course of her pregnancy and childbirth;
- the obligation of the surrogate mother to fulfill all the prescriptions of the attending physician and to provide the genetic mother or woman using the donor egg cell and her spouse with information about the state of her health and the health of the child (children) that she is bearing;
- place of residence of the surrogate mother in the period of carrying the child (children);
- the obligation of the surrogate mother to transfer to the genetic mother or woman who used the donor egg cell, the child (s) after his (their) birth and the period during which the transfer must be made;
- the duty of the genetic mother or woman who used the donor egg to accept from the surrogate mother of the child (children) after his (their) birth and the period during which the child (children) must be adopted;
- the cost of the services provided by the surrogate mother under the surrogate motherhood contract (except for cases when the surrogate motherhood contract is concluded free of charge);
- the procedure for reimbursement of expenses for medical care, food, and accommodation for a surrogate mother during gestation, childbirth and the postpartum period.
Egg donation in Belarus
Egg Donors in Belarus are anonymous, except relatives, who can donate their egg cells to the Intended Mother. In case of using anonymous Egg Donors in Belarus, the Intended Parents should take into consideration, that according to Belorussian legislation, Donor Egg cells obtained from an anonymous donor can only be used after their cryopreservation and completion of a quarantine period, the duration of which is six months.
Why this is necessary to wait so long?
The incubation period of such diseases as Hepatitis B, HIV and Syphilis last up to 6 months, so your egg-donor must be re-examined for this infectious diseases in half of year to make sure that her biological material was not infected. Please, bear in mind that this provision was adopted by Belorussian government first of all to protect the health of your future baby, and it doesn’t exist in other countries which allow egg-donation and surrogacy.
Certificate of birth
After the baby is delivered, the Intended Parents should receive the certificate of birth in the Civil Registrar office, where they appear as legal parents of their baby, i.e. as mother and father of a child or children born in Belarus, without any mentioning to the surrogacy process. Based on this document the Intended Parents can receive the passport of their baby in the Consulate of the country of their origin.
In conclusion, we would say that when we had started our investigation about legal aspects of surrogacy in Belarus, we didn’t expected, that we will find so well-done law base for it. Pons Medical Research Team advises you to pay attention to this country not only because of surrogacy-friendly legislation, but also because of an amazing price/quality ratio in Surrogacy programs in Europe. The price of the medical treatment with usage of assisted reproductive technologies is substantially lower here, than in neighbouring surrogacy-friendly countries (Russia, Ukraine, Georgia), but the quality and legal regulation is much better here.
So, if you are really looking for European standards in Surrogacy, you must visit Belarus. We are ready to provide the best medical service here in collaboration with the IVF clinic in Vitebsk with highly-qualified specialists and modern equipment.