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People's Daily Online>>China Society

Surrogacy gives birth to ethical issues (2)

By Fei Erzi (China Daily)

16:03, December 28, 2011

And then there are those for whom it is a means of circumventing the country's family planning policy.

Surrogacy existed under the table in China until a media storm erupted when it was revealed the wealthy couple in Guangdong had eight babies after they spent almost 1 million yuan (US$157,600) on in vitro fertilization and the hiring of two surrogate mothers.

"The case of the eight babies in Guangdong shows the extent to which human-assisted reproductive technologies are abused," said Dong Yuzheng, an ethicist and secretary-general of the Guangdong Family Planning Association.

In fact, there are serious issues arising from surrogate pregnancies. These are partly legal and partly ethical.

What prompts women to act as surrogates by offering their wombs to bear other women's children?

Money is the crucial factor for many women who agree to be surrogate mothers. In most cases, they are women facing financial difficulties. This might be because they need money to pay the medical bills for someone in their family or because they are divorced women who cannot afford to raise their children on their own. Since money is a crucial factor that prompts women to be surrogates, it inevitably leads to their financial exploitation.

If commercial surrogacy were legal, it would only be a service for the wealthy. Poorer people, who might be just as deserving, perhaps even more so, could never afford the fees demanded.

And what we would see in the future would be a breeder class - poor women renting their wombs to wealthy people.

Surrogate pregnancies also reinforce the out-dated belief that a woman is only a baby-producing machine.

Elizabeth Kane, the first commercial surrogate in the United States and now active in the National Coalition Against Surrogacy, said a surrogate mother feels like a flesh covered test tube during the entire experience.

A failure to consider the ethical implications of surrogate motherhood, commercial or otherwise, is to show a lack of concern for another human being.

The author is a senior writer with China Daily.

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