Thu, Jun 10, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Insemination bill stalls, again

LEGAL IMPASSE The legislature has taken almost 10 years but it still hasn't passed a law specifying how to regulate artificial insemination and surrogate motherhood

By Joy Su  /  STAFF REPORTER

Legislation regulating artificial insemination and surrogate motherhood will have to wait until at least September after last-ditch attempts to pass the law yesterday met with resistance at the Legislative Yuan.

Taking advantage of a final opportunity to review bills before the Legislative Yuan goes into recess on Saturday, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tony Jian (簡肇棟), as convener of the Health, Environment and Social Welfare committee, tacked contesting drafts of the Artificial Insemination Law (人工生殖法草案) on to the committee agenda on Tuesday night.

The drafts were to have been discussed from 11am to 2pm yesterday, though committee sessions are rarely conducted around noon.

The last-minute addition caused a row among DPP lawmakers, with Legislator Shen Fu-hsiung (沈富雄) accusing Jian of sneaking the draft law onto the agenda despite the Department of Health lacking its own version of the bill.

Currently, two versions of the bill have been put on the table, one authored by DPP Legislator Lai Ching-te (賴清德) and the other by independent Legislator Chiu Chuang-liang (邱創良). The department has yet to present its own draft.

"The health department has failed to put up its draft bill because it's facing great difficulties. Under these circumstances, it is improper to force the bill through the legislature. Arranging for a review of the bill at noon does not accord with the requirements of the legislative process," Shen said.

Stalled for around a decade, the bill has yet to clear the legislature, until which time no legal framework covers the regulation of artificial insemination and surrogacy. Artificial insemination is currently policed under departmental regulations which also prohibit surrogate motherhood.

Lin Shio-jean (林秀娟), director-general of the department's Bureau of Health Promotion, described the difficulties facing the department in drafting the bill.

"Firstly, we don't know if we can agree to legalizing surrogate motherhood. The draft laws we have right now are not very specific and would be unable to handle the issues adequately," Lin said.

Lin said that because surrogate motherhood is covered by the Artificial Insemination Law, the legalization of procedures not deemed to be as controversial has been blocked.

Lin said the department in September would propose that legal articles pertaining to surrogate motherhood be lifted from the current law and dealt with separately and at a later date.

"This is a very complex issue and requires a degree of thought to be put into medical, legal, human rights and ethical considerations. For example, if it is legalized, should it be covered by National Health Insurance?" department Director-General Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) asked.

Lin said the department would most likely wait until a conference held at the National Taiwan University in September reaches some conclusions on the matter before venturing its own draft.

Lin said the law needs to guarantee the rights of both the surrogate mother and the child. She criticized the drafts issued by Lai and Chiu, saying that they did not mention the rights of the child or custody matters. In previous years, the possibility of the commercialization of surrogacy has also been a point of concern.

Lin added that marital status offered another complication. Lai's version of the law would allow unmarried couples access to artificial insemination services.

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