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Competing amendments attempt to lift surrogate pregnancy restrictions

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Legislative Yuan yesterday discussed amendments to the Artificial Reproduction Act, which regulates surrogate pregnancies. Minister of Health and Welfare Chiu Wen-ta (邱文達) expressed his support for all amendments proposed, but stressed that surrogate mothers must not be blood-related to the child or children they would carry. Multiple amendments have been proposed to the Act by the Kuomintang (KMT), the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), and the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MHW).

The Legislature's Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee invited the MHW to attend an interpellation regarding the surrogate pregnancy amendments proposed by both KMT and DPP lawmakers.

KMT Legislator Chiang Huei-chen (江惠貞) said that according to studies, around 300,000 people may suffer from sterility and of that, 10 to 20 percent of female patients could have a damaged uterus.

Chiang went on to say that the amendment proposed by her and KMT lawmaker Su Ching-chuan (蘇清泉) states specifically that a couple can seek a surrogate mother only when the wife is born without a uterus, had her uterus removed due to disease, or has a health condition rendering her unsuitable for pregnancy.

Chiang said that in addition, the amendment regulates that the child must only be related to the couple seeking a surrogate, and not the surrogate mother.

DPP lawmakers Yu Mei-nu (尤美女) and Yeh Yi-jin (葉宜津) proposed that the amendment should not be restricted to married couples, but should include single women who are capable of raising children by themselves.

Chiang lashed out at the MHW, saying that the issue of surrogate motherhood has been discussed in Taiwan for over nine years, and “yet the MHW had not done the things they should have done.”

Chiou Shu-ti (邱淑媞), director-general of the Health Promotion Administration (HPA), said an amendment to the act had been sent to the MHW, noting that the ministry intends to lift certain restrictions on surrogate motherhood in Taiwan.

Chiou further noted that the HPA will discuss the issue on Jan. 3, 2014 and send the proposal to the Executive Yuan. She noted that the Cabinet will then hold a meeting to evaluate the proposal before submitting it to the Legislative Yuan.

The MHW's amendment states that surrogate mothers can change their mind during pregnancy, adding that women who are 24-weeks pregnant can choose artificial abortion, Chiou said.

According to the MHW's version of the amendment, the surrogate mothers also have to be R.O.C. nationals and have previously undergone delivery of a child, Chiou said.

Chiou stressed that “mutual assistance” is the reason the government intends to lift restrictions surrounding surrogate pregnancy, noting that the amendment proposed by the government shares a lot of similarities with versions proposed by legislators.

Chiu said he supports the idea of adding regulations for surrogate pregnancy into the Artificial Reproduction Act, noting that it is essential to consider the potential impact of the regulations as well as the management of surrogate pregnancy.

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