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Surrogacy issue still controversial despite increased acceptance

By Ann Yu--The issues of legalizing surrogacy, egg and sperm donations have been mired in controversy since 2004, when the Department of Health (DOH) under the Executive Yuan proposed a draft for legalizing surrogacy. While the concept of surrogacy has seen wider social acceptance, many still have doubts about the moral implications.

The Bureau of Health Promotion under the DOH commissioned the Sociology Department of National Taiwan University to organize a meeting including professors, medical professionals and interested participants to discuss the controversies of surrogacy, yesterday.

Director-General of the Bureau of Health Promotion Shu-Ti Chiou (邱淑媞) explained that many of the participants insisted on their own perspectives; therefore, it was difficult to reach a consensus.

The major issues brought up during the meeting were concerns such as the question of whether the surrogate mother can donate her own eggs; the rights of surrogate mothers and biological parents, including requests for abortion, requests for the surrogate mother to alter her eating habits; as well as the cost of the entire procedure that might induce “career surrogate mothers.”

Despite regulations prohibiting surrogacy mothers in Taiwan, barren couples have been willing to leave the country for the perfect surrogate mother. According to DOH, the Assisted Human Reproduction Act prohibits the buying and selling of artificially reproduced cells.

Nevertheless, surrogate agencies, which introduce couples to overseas voluntary mothers who are willing to carry their embryo, have been increasing in number in Taiwan. According to one of the companies, the procedures of fertilization and pregnancy are completely undertaken in a foreign country because Taiwan prohibits such activities. The minimum cost for successfully bringing a baby home would cost roughly NT$2 million.

Countries and regions that have legalized surrogacy are Thailand, mainland China, Canada, the UK, Japan and the U.S. Taiwanese couples have also looked for surrogate mothers in Russia because of the convenience of its destination and for genetic reasons. Given that there have been many complications between surrogate mothers and biological parents, many countries still prohibit surrogacy. There have been cases where surrogate mothers kidnap the infants to obtain more money from the parents.

According to local reports, expenses related to surrogacy cost up to NT$2 million, which includes medical expenses, accommodation, transportation, administrative fees and the NT$1.5 million surrogacy fee. Some companies even have a “guarantee baby” cost, in which case they charge parents NT$4.5 million while promising to produce a baby within two years.

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