ASRM Asks State Department for an International Travel Exemption for Newborns Born via Gestational Carriers During COVID-19 Pandemic

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) the global leader in multidisciplinary reproductive medicine research, ethical practice, and education, today sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo requesting limited but critical exceptions to sweeping travel restrictions that have directly impacted families whose dreams of parenthood hinge on the ability to travel and connect with their surrogates. Currently, nine out of 10 people are living in countries that have closed their borders due to COVID-19.  

ASRM recognizes that these are, in many ways, unprecedented times and call for serious measures to protect individuals’ health and safety. That said, we are urging the State Department to carve out a narrowly tailored surrogacy exception to allow children who are born in the U.S. to return home with their parents. The unintended consequences of travel bans on family building are being globally felt.  Earlier this month, it was reported that at least 100 infants born through surrogacy, some to intended parents from the United States, are in limbo, waiting in hospitals for parents desperate to travel to and care for them. In the Ukraine alone, officials estimate as many as 1,000 expectant surrogate mothers may give birth before restrictions are lifted, making action to allow for parents to travel from the United States to their infants all that more necessary and time sensitive. 

Under current law, even babies born to gestational surrogates on U.S. soil are required to attain a U.S. passport to exit the country. Allowing for intended parents to enter the United States with all due health precautions and creating an exception for newborns born through surrogacy during the COVID-19 pandemic to obtain passports are reasonable and sound steps. 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. 

ASRM president Dr. Catherine Racowsky stated, “Many parents rely on the use of gestational carriers to build their families. Like so many aspects of our lives, these efforts have been hit hard and stymied by the COVID-19 pandemic. We are calling on the governments of the world to work together to enable the unification of parents and children during these challenging times.” 

For more information on this press release, contact: 

J. Benjamin Younger Office of Public Affairs 
726 7th St. SE
Washington, DC 20003
Tel: (202) 863-2494

ASRM Bulletins are published by ASRM's Office of Public Affairs to inform Society members of important recent developments. Republication or any other use of the contents of the Bulletin without permission is prohibited. 


Sean Tipton
Ph: 202-863-2494 or 202-421-5112 (mobile)

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