Banning surrogacy, only rational choice for China
What would people do if they want to have children of their own yet are physically unable to give birth? A recent article published by People’s Daily hinted that surrogacy can be a choice. Apart from making a case that everyone has the right to have children, the report promptly rekindled a fierce debate among Chinese netizens over the moral and legal issues about such practice.
“Nearly 90 percent of women cannot conceive naturally after the age of 45,” said the article, which quoted data from China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) in 2016 as saying that 50 percent of women in Chinese families who are eligible to have a second child are over the age of 40.
Reports show that China’s fertility rate was only 1.047 during the population census in 2015, which is less than half of the world’s average and is even lower than that of Japan, a rapidly ageing society. Even if Beijing relaxed the one-child policy, a majority of people who look forward to have a second child still find it hard to give birth because of their age, while various other factors including environmental pollution and pressure at work are making the odds slimmer.
It may, therefore, be comforting to hear suggestions that surrogacy should not be totally forbidden, but to be supported with relevant regulations.
Nevertheless, most Chinese netizens are more worried about the negative side effects once surrogacy becomes legal. They claimed that prostitution, drug abuse, murder and human trafficking are all illegal and there is no lack of related laws and regulations in those fields. But unfortunately, those crimes are still being committed. That being said, how can anyone guarantee that there won’t be any unlawful surrogacy services, not to mention grave moral concerns, in the future once we relax the policy?
Similar cases abroad can provide us with some lessons. Early last year, a US surrogate mother who was pregnant with triplets filed a lawsuit against the commissioning father over the latter’s demands to abort one of the fetuses for he only wanted twins. Saying she had bonded with all three unborn children, the mother hoped the court would rule that her surrogacy contract was unenforceable. However, according to surrogacy law in California, surrogate mother has no parental right. Hence, the case was dismissed.
Can surrogate mothers be forced to have an abortion? Can they keep their children once they change their mind? These are not the only issues in the story. More importantly, will babies be commercialized after surrogacy becomes legal?
In India and Thailand, some young girls from poor families are forced to conceive babies for sale. They are treated like money minting machines in black markets. If their “clients” decided to give up their babies, surrogate mothers can only bear all the consequences themselves.
Indeed, surrogacy is legal in some parts of the world. Yet the truth is it is prohibited in more countries and regions and there is a reason for that. Even in areas with relatively advanced legal systems like the US, tragedies cannot be fully avoided. Under the current circumstances in China, where conditions are not mature enough to embrace surrogacy without major concerns, supporting surrogacy litigation may bring more damage than happiness.
During a press conference of NHFPC on Wednesday, China reaffirmed to keep cracking down on such practice and banning medical institutions and professionals from performing surrogate techniques of any kind. This is not only Beijing’s official stance on the case, but also the only rational choice at the moment. After all, as a Chinese netizen put it, “since prostitution is not legal, how could a woman renting her uterus being permissible while renting her vagina is prohibited? How inconsistent is that.” The author is a reporter with the Global Times. firstname.lastname@example.org