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Russia Warns Of NATO “Grave Mistake”, Shanghai Aims For Normalcy, Record Pakistan Heat

👋 Grüezi!*

Welcome to Monday, where Russia warns Finland and Sweden that joining NATO would be a “grave mistake,” locked-down Shanghai announces it aims for June 1 reopening, and South Asia’s heat wave becomes untenable. Meanwhile, Peter Huth in German daily Die Welt explains why the Doomsday Clock isn’t ticking quite the same for millennials today as it was for baby boomers.

[*Swiss German]

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How Italy’s New Draconian Bill On Surrogacy Twists The Meaning Of "Women's Dignity"

Italy’s right-wing politicians are trying to ban surrogacy, as the pope pushes parents to have children and feminists are divided on the issue. On such a complicated issue, hard thinking and nuance have been in short supply.

-Essay-

After almost two decades away from Italy, I ended up moving back just after I found out I was pregnant in 2018.

We lived in a stone house among olive trees in the Umbrian countryside, just off a beautiful medieval borgo called Montecastello di Vibio.

Even if I had tried, I could not have picked a better place for my pregnancy to be celebrated — and monitored publicly. With its aging dwellers slowly fading and younger families moving to the big cities, Montecastello was a perfect illustration of Italy’s falling fertility rates.

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Alleged Mariupol Chemical Attack, 4 Million Displaced Children

👋 Khulumkha!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where reports have surfaced of a possible Russian chemical weapons attack in the besieged city of Mariupol, at least 25 die in a tropical storm in the Philippines, and a British woman breaks an exhausting world record. Meanwhile, Spanish independent magazine La Marea zooms in on BioTexCom, a Kyiv-based surrogacy clinic that continues to function in the middle of the war.

[*Kokborok - India and Bangladesh]

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Ukraine Hopes These Surrogate Babies Will Stir The Conscience Of The West

BioTexCom is responsible for more than half of the 2,500 surrogate babies born annually in Ukraine. This is how, in the middle of the war, the surrogacy company continues to function.

KYIV — With his right hand, he moves the forceps, emulating how embryos are inserted into a woman's uterus. On the left, he holds the walkie-talkie used to communicate with the soldiers monitoring the surroundings of the clinic.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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Dr. Ihor Pechenoga, with three medical specialties, has been working since 2018 as a spokesperson for the surrogacy company BioTexCom, which is responsible for more than half of the 2,500 babies born annually in Ukraine through this procedure. When the Russian invasion began on February 24, he was appointed with the responsibility of protecting the clinic, located very close to the Kyiv front line.

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Society
Michela Marzano

Ethics Of Surrogacy: The Case Of Baby "Luna" Abandoned In Ukraine

Surrogacy is still considered quite controversial, especially in Italy where a story has made headlines after would-be parents renounced a baby born in Ukraine. The author says we must face the ethical (and other) questions rather than dismiss the practice as "uterus for rent."

-Analysis-

ROME — The story of the surrogate child born in Kiev, and then abandoned by its would-be Italian parents, is filled with deep sadness. No child should ever be let go.

And yet, it happens. It happens when a woman decides to give birth anonymously, and the baby is then given up for adoption. Or when a child is placed in temporary foster care, but then never returns to the family of origin. It happens with some premature-born babies who, after being kept alive with the help of sophisticated therapies, will never be picked up by their parents because of a disability. It even happens with adoption: those rare occasions when the kid is returned, putting him or her through a dramatic "double abandonment."

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Ukraine
Hannah Steinkopf-Frank

Adoption, IVF, Surrogacy: COVID-19 Puts New Lives On Hold

We must remember the many lives lost to coronavirus. But we should also not forget the fate of many new lives that have been left up in the air as travel bans and strained health care systems have disrupted plans for surrogacy, adoption and in vitro fertilization around the world.


Surrogacy: Some 100 surrogacy babies are stuck in reproductive clinics around Ukraine, which banned foreigners entering the country in March as the COVID-19 infections spread.

*Reproduction clinic BioTexCom, which is managing 46 surrogacy baby relationships, posted a video online urging the government to work with embassies to allow travel exemptions.

*The expectant parents in this global industry come from France, Germany, Argentina, the U.S. and several other countries around the world. Some pregnant surrogates are stuck in isolation away from their families and some who were able to get into Ukraine before the lockdown are now in legal limbo, unable to return to their home countries.

*Human rights activists say the pandemic has shed light on an often exploitive industry. Melissa Brissman, an attorney running the surrogacy agency Reproductive Possibilities, told NBC News that around 200 couples are currently in surrogacy limbo. "When a blanket rule is made quickly, you get all these unanticipated problems," said Brissman. "These babies have parents ready to take care of them. It doesn't have to be this way."

Adoption: International adoptions have similarly been put on hold, with children in countries ranging from Chad to Morocco to China unable to unite with their new families.

*New parents in countries including India and Cameroon are also stuck in lockdowns, with their children lacking documentation to travel with them.

*In many coronavirus hotspots in the U.S., including New York and New Orleans, group homes are understaffed and foster families are hesitant to risk infection.

*On a hopeful note, some areas have seen an increased interest in people wanting to foster and adopt during this time, including Saskatchewan, which was the first district in Canada to provide online foster training. Closed family courts also aren't stopping adoptions, with some ceremonies in the U.S. taking place over Zoom.

IVF: With nonessential medical procedures shut down, women around the world have also had to stop in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments.

*In Japan, which has one of the lowest population growth rates in the world, health experts worry that delayed IVF combined with fears around raising children in a pandemic will decrease the birth rate, The Straits Timesreports.

*With the delicate fertility drug cycle, many worry they have lost their chance at becoming parents, despite having often already spent tens of thousands of dollars on treatments. In France, where treatments for thousands of women have been halted, some estimate there will be a rush on IVF treatments after the pandemic is contained.

*Virginie Rio, the founder of the BAMP Collective that advocates for IVF patients, told French Slate, "When we hear that infertility treatment is not vital, we forget the reality for the couples concerned: having a child is often a fundamental life project for them."

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LES ECHOS
Anne-Marie Le Pourhiet

The Human Thing: When It's Not About “Bioethics”

In the place of narcissistic and subjective dignity wrongly invoked by procreation militants, we need a return to the transcendent and objective dignity of human nature.

-OpEd-

RENNES — Blame our laziness or the traps of euphemism, but we've grown accustomed to using the timid term of "bioethics' to debate certain subjects that are, in reality, philosophical and moral meta-norms that govern us all — that is, none other than the singular and irreducible dignity of the human species, as opposed to fauna, flora and objects. The humanist philosophy at the source of what we call "human rights," no stranger to the Judeo-Christian heritage, is based on the premise that a human being is endowed with conscience and reason, and the fact that this particular ability distinguishes us from the rest of the living and non-living world.

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China
Qin Peipei

Post One-Child Policy, China Should Embrace Surrogacy

China eased its controversial one-child policy in late 2015. But there are still plenty of people, for one reason or another, who can't have children and could benefit from surrogate woman willing to carry the pregnancy.

BEIJING — A recent article in the state-run People's Daily turned new attention to the always hot-button topic of human reproduction. For one thing, it suggested that changes made in 2015 to the controversial one-child policy have not, as many had predicted, produced a sudden baby boom. So couples are not after all rushing to have another baby just because the law says they can.

But what really stood out in the article, titled "Anxiety Over The Second Child That Doesn't Arrive," was its focus on surrogacy. The practice by which a woman agrees to carry the child for would-be parents is outlawed in China, but the authors of the article suggest the issue should be revisited as an option for some couples. The article notes that a significant number of parents in China would like to have another child but, for one reason or another, cannot conceive or carry the baby.

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Sources
Yann Verdo

20 Years After Dolly, The Temptation To Clone Humans

Though the technology now exists to clone humans, and mercenaries are at the ready if allowed, most of the mainstream geneticist community points to other ways to get life-saving stem cells.

PARIS — It's been almost 20 years since the work of Scottish scientists Ian Wilmut and Keith Campbell led to the birth of Dolly the sheep, the world's first cloned mammal. News of the breakthrough rippled like a shockwave, provoking both enthusiasm and outrage. The biggest concern? That we might do the same with humans.

The European Council hastened to amend its Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Dignity of the Human Being with regard to the Application of Biology and Medicine, prohibiting "any intervention seeking to create a human being genetically identical to another human being alive or dead."

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blog

Dilma Detested, VW Posts Losses, In Defense Of Bratwurst

U.S. TO STEP UP ANTI-ISIS FIGHT

The United States may soon dramatically escalate its military campaign against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said at a Senate hearing yesterday that the new policy could include more "strikes from the air or direct action on the ground," The Washington Post reports. The recommendations have yet to be officially approved by President Obama, but the newspaper reports that a decision could happen as early as this week.

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Sources
Caroline Michel

Surrogate Mother Industry Carries On After Nepal QuakeÂ

Despite the devastation, growing demand among foreign couples continues to feed medical tourism in Nepal, where surrogacy agencies recruit women to carry babies for infertile couples.

KATHMANDU — The day after the devastating earthquake that killed nearly 9,000 people in Nepal, a young dad was feeding a newborn baby in the middle of the night on the tarmac of Kathmandu's airport. Behind him was the aircraft that the Israeli government hurriedly sent to retrieve its citizens. At the same time, thousands of people were stuck in traffic jams as Nepal's tourists rushed to the airport, trying to flee the country as quickly as possible.

Israeli authorities made it their priority to retrieve the 25 babies born of Nepalese surrogate mothers and their families. The photos of these infants and their parents landing in Tel Aviv on April 27 with radiant smiles on their faces were seen around the world.

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India
Natacha Tatu

Brave New World: Inside India's First Bonafide Baby Factory

Poor women come to this Indian clinic to rent their bellies to wealthy couples from around the world. A practical solution to modern problems or the worst kind of social engineering?

ANAND — Maanasi is ready. The 34-year-old is lying on the examination table, her feet in stirrups, waiting for Dr. Patel to arrive. Two nurse’s aides point a lamp at her belly. Maanasi barely lets out a sigh when the doctor implants two embryos inside of her, before leaving without a single word. The operation didn’t even last 10 minutes. The clients, an American couple, had sent six frozen embryos by plane. Another attempt will still be possible, should this one fail.

With her small sack on her shoulder, the young woman will be taken to the “house of surrogates,” a few hundred meters from the clinic, where she will be staying until the baby is born. That is also when Maanasi will meet the clients for the first time, just after the birth. She will then be able to go back home to her village, to her husband and her two children, aged seven and nine. And in her bank account, which will have been opened for the occasion, there will be $4,000 for her trouble.

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