The practice of foreigners using the Ukraine as an international surrogacy destination as come under fire as 51 babies born to surrogate mothers lay uncollected due to coronavirus lockdown restrictions. Clients from all over the world including the United States, China, Britain, Sweden and Ireland commission women in the Ukraine to carry pregnancies for them, often using eggs harvested from other Ukrainian women.

Now, however, they find themselves unable to travel to the country and so the babies they commissioned remain unclaimed.

A fertility company, BioTexCom, is maintaining care of the newborns at a location in Kiev called the Hotel Venice which is surrounded by a high fence with barbed wire. The building is usually where parents stay while picking up their babies. At BioTexCom, a surrogate mother receives about $15,000-$17,000 (€13,600-€15,400).

The company released footage of the babies to spur the Government into easing restrictions on the prospective parents. It had the opposite effect however.

Lyudmyla Denisova, the human rights ombudsman for the Ukrainian parliament, said the video showed the country had a “massive and systemic” surrogacy industry where babies were advertised as a “high quality product”.

She suggested looking into changing the law to allow only Ukrainian parents to use such services.

Separately, the Ukraine’s Catholic Bishops called the practice a trampling of human dignity and urged the Ukrainian authorities “to condemn and ban this shameful phenomenon”.

“In recent days, we have witnessed a video posted on the BioTexCom clinic page from the Venice Hotel in Kyiv, which shows an improvised children’s room and 46 crying babies, deprived of maternal touch, parental warmth, selfless care, much-needed love, but are seen as a purchased product for which the buyer did not come. Such a demonstration of contempt for the human person and his dignity is unacceptable,” they wrote.