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New law poised to prohibit surrogacy

By Wang Xiaodong | China Daily | Updated: 2015-12-22 07:55

The top legislature is considering banning surrogacy, as well as the buying and selling of sperm, eggs, fertilized eggs and embryos in China, as it reviews a draft amendment to a family planning law.

Violators will face fines of at least 10,000 yuan ($1,540), or even criminal charges, according to the draft.

The amendment, proposed on Monday by the State Council, China's Cabinet, to the National People's Congress for review, would allow only authorized medical institutions to conduct assisted reproductive technologies after approval from provincial-level health authorities.

The draft, which is likely to be passed when the legislature closes its bimonthly session on Sunday, would take effect on Jan 1.

Wang Aiming, a professor of assisted reproductive medicine at Navy General Hospital in Beijing, said the practices involved have already been banned under some regulations and are waiting to be included in a law, which would have greater enforcement power.

Trading of eggs, sperm and surrogacy for profit would raise a series of ethical problems, she said.

"There have been many problematic cases caused by surrogacy, such as the death of the surrogate mother during pregnancy. Disputes may also arise when a surrogate mother and the biological mother fight for the rights to the baby."

Some unlicensed clinics have been conducting surrogacy operations secretly for profit.

"Some surrogate mothers are college students. Some also sell their eggs for money. But clients pay much more to agents of such clinics to get the service," Wang said.

According to current rules, men and women who are infertile are already able to have children through assisted reproductive technology at authorized medical institutes or sperm banks, she said.

In April, the government launched a campaign to crack down on medical organizations and personnel providing illegal surrogacy services.

However, little progress has been made due to a lack of legislation and law enforcement at grassroots level, according to the National Health and Family Planning Commission.

It is also difficult to collect evidence on surrogacy cases and punish those held accountable without having a law, the commission said earlier this month.

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