Impact of the war in Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic on transnational surrogacy - a qualitative study of Danish infertile couples' experiences of being in 'exile'

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  • Malene Tanderup
  • Amrita Pande
  • Schmidt, Lone
  • Birgitte B Nielsen
  • Peter Humaidan
  • Charlotte Kroløkke

RESEARCH QUESTION: How did Danish permanently infertile couples experience surrogacy when going abroad and what impact did the war in Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic have on this?

DESIGN: A qualitative study was performed between May and September 2022. The in-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with 14 permanently infertile couples across Denmark who were in different stages of using surrogacy. The interviews were transcribed and analysed using systematic text condensation.

RESULTS: All except one couple went abroad, mainly to Ukraine, to have an enforceable transparent contract, professionals to advise them and the possibility of using the eggs of the intended mother. They did not feel that this was a 'choice' but rather the only option they had to have the longed-for child. According to current Danish legislation, the intended mother could not obtain legal motherhood over the child, not even through stepchild adoption, and this increased the feeling of not being a 'worthy mother'. This study expanded on the term 'reproductive exile' by identifying four different forms of exile: the exiled Danish couple, the gestational carrier in exile, exile at home and, finally, the reproductive body in exile.

CONCLUSIONS: Understanding infertile couples' experiences when crossing borders is important for several reasons. It may, among others, assist politicians and authorities in developing a sound Danish legal policy on surrogacy to address the current issues of legal parenthood and avoid missing reproductive opportunities for permanently infertile couples.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103258
JournalReproductive BioMedicine Online
Issue number4
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2023 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.

    Research areas

  • Female, Humans, Pregnancy, COVID-19, Denmark/epidemiology, Infertility/therapy, Mothers, Pandemics, Surrogate Mothers, Ukraine/epidemiology, Male

ID: 369771556