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Accepted Paper:

Changing reproductive mobilities in the post-Soviet space: The ethnography of the emerging international surrogacy and egg donation hubs in Georgia and Kazakhstan in times of war  
Polina Vlasenko (University of Oxford)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines the changing international surrogacy and egg donation flows across Georgia and Kazakhstan, in times of disruption of reproductive activities, regulations, and connections due to the ongoing full-scale invasion of Ukraine, another major reproductive hub in the region.

Paper long abstract:

Thanks to the permissive state legislation, low costs of medical treatment, and plentiful availability of willing surrogates and egg providers, certain post-Soviet states have emerged as global hubs for commercial surrogacy and egg donation. This paper examines the changes in the international surrogacy and egg donation flows across Georgia and Kazakhstan due to the ongoing full-scale invasion of Ukraine, another major reproductive hub in the region.

As Ukraine faces a decline in the number of foreign couples seeking surrogacy and egg donation treatments, many fertility businesses relocate to Georgia and Kazakhstan--the two countries that position themselves as new international ‘reprohubs’ (Inhorn), offering fertility treatment to growing Chinese, European and local markets. This re-configuration drastically reshapes reproductive care landscape and mobilities domestically, regionally, and globally, generating public debate about the ethics of medically assisted reproduction around the movement of people, gametes, and technologies across borders. As surrogate mothers and egg donors are recruited across borders-with a growing number of women from Kazakhstan and Ukraine traveling to Georgia, different gender, kinship, religious, class and racial norms are shaping their experiences and affecting their understandings of work, family, and reproduction. Moreover, regulations are rapidly changing as Georgia considers banning the commercial surrogacy for foreign nationals, generating the outward flow of embryos/egg cells to Kazakhstan for international surrogacy arrangements. This study follows these changing reproductive mobilities in the post-Soviet context through participant observation in fertility clinics, and cryoshipping companies, interviews with medical professionals, agents, and surrogates and egg providers in Georgia and Kazakhstan.

Panel P184
Un/Doing reproduction: transnational reproductive justice in times of (post-)pandemics and anti-gender campaigns
  Session 1