It doesn’t really fall under our remit, but it’s impossible not to write something about the ongoing situation in Ukraine.
The Guardian had a good article on Saturday on the situation inside Ukraine’s missile shelters (often repurposed subway stations). There are a lot of young children and babies in the stations, and as the tweet above indicates, some babies have even been born there.
Sharing an image of the newborn child wrapped in blankets while others in the shelter are visible in the background, Hanna Hopko, a former Ukrainian MP and chair of Democracy in Action Conference, said Mia was born in the shelter in a “stressful environment”. But she said that despite the challenging experience, Mia’s mother was happy, adding: “We defend lives and humanity!” The baby was among more than 80 born in bomb shelters over the last two nights, according to Kyiv’s city authorities.
The war is affecting pre-born children and their mothers too: one particularly grim way in which it is doing so is to do with surrogacy in Ukraine. The country is rare in European terms in allowing commercial surrogacy and enforcing surrogacy contracts. This is creating unique issues, as the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
One couple has secured a Chinese passport, as one of the baby’s parents was born there. The other parents could hire a nanny to look after the baby until stability returns. But that could mean a wait of weeks or months, and these families – who have been struggling to conceive for years – desperately want to meet their child. They could help the surrogate mother move to a safe neighbouring country, but that would invalidate the surrogacy contract, which was created under Ukrainian law. [Emphasis mine]
“It’s a nightmare,” says Sam Everingham, the global director of Growing Families, who is working with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to find a solution. It could involve a deal with British authorities that are still operating in the western city of Lviv, in an area that is not contested. “They’re between a rock and a hard place, they can’t leave their baby behind.”
Another surrogate mother reported raising worries about whether it was a possibility that she could legally be forced to leave Ukraine. The Irish Department of Foreign affairs is assisting a number of commissioning families with bringing their baby back, but a recent Irish Times report doesn’t mention the surrogate mothers’ wellbeing at all. Whatever one thinks of surrogacy, this is not a good situation.
I’m not sure what this amounts to really, other than the obvious point that war hurts everyone, including babies born and unborn and their mothers – human rights issues are really joined up, not just in a ‘consistent life ethic’ way, but also in that one sort of human rights violation often affects groups that are vulnerable to other sorts. The Red Cross is doing humanitarian relief work in Ukraine, as is the well-regarded Catholic charity Caritas. Of course, lots of other charities are doing similar things – it can just be hard to find a campaign to donate to in circumstances like this in case one inadvertently ends up funding abortion or other human rights violations, and these two seemed good on that axis (a member of one of the Red Cross’s subcommittees once wrote presented a paper advocating a change to a pro-choice stance which is published on their website, but as far as I can tell it didn’t lead to a change of policy, and the Ukraine relief campaign is squarely focus on direct humanitarian aid.) We’d be happy to update this post with other recommendations for good charities to support – email us at firstname.lastname@example.org