28 May 2020 ASRM Asks State Department for Travel Ban Exceptions for International Surrogacy
In an effort to support international intended parents and newborns stranded by the coronavirus COVID-19 emergency, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) yesterday sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo requesting limited exceptions to the United States’ travel ban. In the letter, ASRM requests exceptions to U.S. policy allowing parents to travel to the U.S. for the birth of their babies born via surrogacy in the United States and facilitating the return with their parents to their home countries.
Pandemic-related shutdowns and global travel bans have thrown the carefully scheduled plans and procedures of intended parents undergoing assisted reproductive technology into disarray, with no advance warning and no way of knowing when donor agencies, clinics and airlines will resume services. Reproductive health professionals advised clients not to begin new procedures.
But those precautions did nothing to help families with pregnancies already in process. As ASRM reported in its statement, nine of 10 people on earth right now live in a country with closed borders. One growing area of concern is the number of babies born by surrogacy to parents from other countries. In some cases, as we recently reported on Ukraine, parents have been unable to travel to be at their baby’s births and to take custody of their newborns. In other cases, parents who were able to make it to the births are now trapped, unable to travel home.
Fortunately, fertility physicians, attorneys, surrogacy agencies and advocacy organizations have come together to share resources and information for addressing the new challenges of the pandemic. ASRM’s letter to the U.S. State Department is just one example of worldwide efforts to help families navigate the crisis.
In its letter, ASRM asks the State Department to take reasonable and sound steps to allow international intended parents to enter the U.S. with all due health precautions and creating an exception for newborns born through surrogacy during the COVID-19 pandemic and to quickly process the passport applications.
“These steps will ensure that parents can be present for a child’s birth to take physical and legal responsibility for their children and, as applicable and only when deemed safe, return home to an International location as a family. Without an exception, these children are at risk of being trapped in the U.S., potentially without a legal guardian or health insurance,” according to the ASRM announcement about its letter to the State Department.
Our IFLG team has been proud to assist intended parents from at least 21 countries in traveling to the U.S. for the births of their babies or in helping them travel home again. We are grateful to ASRM and to all the many professionals and advocates who are working behind the scenes to ensure that, even with the world in the grips of an historic pandemic, the most vulnerable among us are not forgotten and left behind.
For more information about assisted reproductive technology and the impacts of COVID-19, see our collection of pandemic-related articles, webinars and videos.