Surrogate motherhood should only be allowed for wedded couple consignors, through gestational surrogacy, and without payment charges, a citizens’ conference meeting commissioned by the Department of Health’s Bureau of Health Promotion (BHP) concluded yesterday.
The controversial issue of surrogate motherhood and its legitimacy has been discussed before at a citizens’ conference meeting held in 2004, which reached a conclusion at the time granting conditional approval and which proved a crucial reference for the BHP’s 2005-drafted surrogacy act.
Lin Kuo-ming (林國明), NTU Department of Sociology associate professor and meeting moderator, yesterday said the draft act had left some issues unsolved which has led to many controversial debates since, such as the qualifying criteria for determining applicable consignors, determining when parenthood begins, whether there should be a payment made to surrogate mothers or whether there needs to be a mediating service between the consignors and the surrogate mother.
On the point of applicable consignors, a consensus was reached yesterday over the following two scenarios of gestational surrogacy: “Cases in which infertile couples provide both the sperm and egg should be allowed as soon as possible” and “Cases in which infertile couples provided at least the sperm or the egg (with the other provided by an anonymous donor) should be allowed.”
However, the meeting did not come to a conclusion on conventional surrogacy — in which the egg is provided by the surrogate mother — due to ethical concerns, such as intentional genetic screening, the materialization of the female body or even human trafficking.
During the discussion, some participants also mentioned that as the concept of family diversifies, the government should protect the rights of cohabitation couples, same-sex couples and even single individuals.
On the point of balancing the rights of the consignors, the surrogate mother and the child the participants stressed the importance of protecting the rights of the surrogate mother as the first criteria, including her basic human rights, physical autonomy and privacy rights.
Also, a contractual agreement on detailed rights should be signed by both the consignors and the surrogate mother and should also be reviewed by a mediating third-party or be legally recognized by a court.
The citizen’s meeting finally came to the conclusion that surrogate motherhood should be a voluntary, unpaid service — with the exception of the payment of necessary medical costs — to prevent it from becoming a commercial activity.