Surrogate pregnancy challenges social ethic
By Wang Zhuoqiong and Raymond Zhou (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-01-07 06:56
"We need volunteers for surrogate pregnancy. No sex services. Women with high
education preferred. For your loving heart, you'll receive compensation of
40,000 yuan (US$4,900) or more."
This is an ad on a surrogate pregnancy website, AA69 Loving Heart Surrogate
Pregnancy Net. It claims it is a non-profit service whose sole purpose is to
help infertile couples in a way that is "harmless to society" and out of
"respect and gratitude to surrogate mothers."
It is not the only website engaged in such nominally "public service"
activities. But they all operate in a grey area because they used to be shut
down by authorities.
Some legal experts point out that Chinese law does not specifically forbid
"using another person's tummy to give birth to your own child." But a regulation
by the Ministry of Health prohibits hospitals or any professional medical
personnel rendering such a service.
The websites act as an intermediary. While they do not charge surrogate
mothers, some do list miscellaneous fees for clients.
One site charges 5,000 yuan (US$617) for "information," 2,000 (US$247) or
more for "food, lodging and transport" and 5,000 more for "services."
"We have migrant workers as surrogate mothers. We also have many college
graduates. If you're willing to pay more, you can choose divorced women who have
had healthy pregnancies before," said the website operator, who is identified
only by surname, Lu.
While most sites have strict physical health requirements, such as a
check-up, a restriction on smoking or drinking habits, no hereditary diseases or
history of abortion, none seems to address the psychological pain that surrogate
mothers must endure when finally giving up their babies.
In the United States, there have been cases when surrogate mothers could not
sever the attachment to their babies and refuse to hand them over to the
biological fathers. Such cases have raised public awareness of the ethical
In China, some voice support for surrogate motherhood, citing the agony of
infertile couples and the benefits to society as long as the process is open and
Supporters say that a ban only forces those who want the children to resort
to questionable methods, which raises the likelihood of scamming.
But most people in China are resolute in their opposition. "It will bring
about many social issues," said Wu Qiantao, a professor at the Ethics and Moral
Studies Centre at Renmin University in Beijing. "Once a woman goes through
months of pregnancy and bears a child, she is the mother. And a contract for
surrogate motherhood essentially asks her to sell her baby."
Liu Junhai, a legal expert at the China Academy of Social Sciences, said:
"Surrogate motherhood involves personal freedom, human rights and ethics, and
must be handled in accordance with the law."
Liu said the websites are open to the public and may have to face legal
ramifications when the natural and surrogate mothers enter into an agreement
without a full understanding of the law.
He emphasized that laws should be more explicit in terms of protecting the
rights of these women, monitoring the procedure of surrogate pregnancy and
guaranteeing legal rights of all participants.
(China Daily 01/07/2006 page1)