Surrogacy ban needs to be lifted

By Chen Gau-tzu 陳昭姿  / 

Thu, Dec 26, 2013 - Page 8

In 1986, I called for the ban on surrogate motherhood to be lifted, but up until now nobody else has joined the cause, which shows how much opposition there is toward lifting the ban. None of the people who have offered surrogacy in the past, offer it now or want to do so in the future are prepared to speak out for fear of being shamed and humiliated by the opposition.

For many years now, the nation’s birthrate has been the lowest in the world and the population policy has been based on encouraging those who can have children to have as many as possible, while ignoring infertile couples to the point that childless couples have no recourse.

The majority of feminists, who are against surrogacy, advocate the relaxation of abortion laws, in effect, encouraging killing, while their opposition to surrogacy represents a denial to the creation of life.

Surrogacy was first allowed in the West. The most common argument against surrogacy there was that it infringed on the rights of the surrogate mother to have her own children and continue her own family’s bloodline.

However, advanced countries allow surrogacy based on human rights principles: They allow those who want surrogacy services the right to pursue their own happiness, while giving surrogate mothers the right to make other people happy. Surrogacy requires the consent of the birth mother, and someone who needs surrogacy can in no way force it upon another person.

The Child Welfare League Foundation, a body that always has the best in mind for children, encourages adoption, but opposes surrogacy.

They are caught up by their own ideology and a lack of evidence to back up their position. European and US medical literature shows that the rate of disputes resulting from adoption is approximately 15 percent, whereas the dispute rate for surrogacy cases is approximately three in every 1,000.

There are three inherent challenges with adoption: the donation of sperm against a person’s will, the donation of eggs against a person’s will and pregnancy against a person’s will. Surrogacy only needs a female who is willing to become pregnant. The repercussions of adoption are also far greater than surrogacy. The foundation should provide information on the results of adoption over the years to show the state of adopted Taiwanese children: Are they happy? Do they have psychological problems as adults?

Surrogacy is a process that takes 10 months, whereas adoption is a lifelong issue for the three parties concerned, namely the adopting family, the family putting the child up for adoption and the adopted child.

Every staff member of child welfare organizations promoting adoption should go and experience adopting a child instead of just talking about it.

A conference in 2004 reached an agreement to “conditionally allow surrogacy.”

However, because of opposition from women’s and children’s groups, promotion of this was stalled and only restarted with the appointment of Chiou Shu-ti (邱淑媞) as director-general of the Health Promotion Administration at the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

The recent diverse family formation issue was a reminder that in today’s society, we should pay attention to gay marriage and child rearing by homosexual couples.

The demands of infertile husbands and wives should have been answered long ago. Surrogacy has been practiced in advanced nations for almost 40 years and there is much research and assessment that has been done on the topic. If there is any trouble promoting surrogacy in Taiwan, that literature should be addressed.

The reimbursement aspect of surrogacy should be dealt with. The Act of Gender Equality in Employment (兩性工作平等法) states that women should be reimbursed when they perform household chores.

If people are worried about commercial activity and its implications, then marriage should be prohibited because marriage contains more commercial activity than anything else.

Finally, everyone should remember to place themselves in other people’s shoes and allow people to pursue their own happiness, as this is the highest expression of kindness.

Destiny is fair. It could be your daughter, sister or the love of your life in need of surrogacy, and if that happens, will you say that surrogacy involves high-class women giving money to low-class women to have children for them?

Chen Gau-tzu is a surrogacy advocate and director of the Center for Pharmaceutical Advancement and Training at the Koo Foundation Sun Yat-sen Cancer Center.

Translated by Drew Cameron