Sat, Jul 20, 2013 - Page 5 News List

FEATURE: Couples suffer as long as surrogacy remains illegal

AFP, TAIPEI

“Traditionally a couple would need to have a son to continue the family line, but what if a surrogate mother doesn’t bear a son? I don’t think technology can resolve a cultural issue,” she said.

The Lees say they hired their surrogate mother in Thailand on mutually agreed terms.

“We didn’t force her to become a surrogate mother, she wanted to make money out of her own free will. I don’t think it demeans her in any way,” Mr Lee said.

Demand for infertility treatment has been on the rise in Taiwan, which has one of the world’s lowest birth rates, partly as more couples choose to get married and have babies at a later age, doctors say.

Last year, the average age of Taiwanese women who gave birth for the first time was 30.1 years, according to the Ministry of the Interior.

Estimates of the number of Taiwanese couples seeking surrogacy range from anywhere between several hundred to tens of thousands.

Liu Ji-ong, a fertility expert in Taipei, said surrogacy is the only option for many women with underlying medical conditions.

“I think it is a question of social justice. We cannot neglect the needs of those women who want to be mothers, as they are unlikely to speak up for themselves or take to the streets to protest,” he said.

Lee said he only hopes that if the surrogacy bill is passed, it recognizes previous cases. Currently he can only register his son as his child born out of wedlock, while his wife is recognized as the “adoptive mother.”

However, he said he doubts that Taiwan will see real progress on the issue in the short term.

“It is not a major concern for Taiwanese politicians because there are just not enough votes [in it] for them,” he said.

Asked about the chances of Taiwan passing a surrogacy bill any time soon, he said: “I am not optimistic.”

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