By Princess Chukwuneke
At the start of 2016, China amended its one-child policy that had been in motion for 30 years. Perhaps it was because surrogacy had wormed its way into family planning among the richer members of the Chinese population, a concern for a vast majority of citizens who could not afford such a luxury. The amendment could have also been a response to China’s aging and increasingly male population. Whatever the case, legislation opened the way for couples to have two children. However, this ruling included a provision banning surrogacy in an effort to “dissuade population control circumvention.”
Thus, it was a surprise when this provision was lifted. Apparently, lawmakers were concerned that barring surrogacy would create a push for it, driving surrogacy services underground and overseas. The ban lift is also suggestive of China’s rapidly changing attitude toward family and bloodlines.
This new freedom could not have come sooner. Apart from battling the stagnancy of replacing a 30-year policy, a significant number of women were found to be infertile (according to research conducted by the China Population Association, 12.5% of women of child-bearing age were infertile). Further, several parents could not have a second child through In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) due to health reasons. As a result, surrogacy became an attractive choice for those who could afford it.
However, surrogacy was not without its limits. A study conducted in 2014 by the New York Times reported that the number of surrogate babies born in China every year is over 10,000, not including the numbers born through underground and overseas channels. Despite these numbers, there is still no protection under the law for surrogate mothers or those who hire them. Families risk losing to surrogates who may later choose to keep the child, and surrogates in turn are responsible for whatever physical or psychological trauma they face during the process.
This article suggests that the Chinese law should recognize and regulate surrogacy, marking it a respectable avenue for begetting a child. While the author does not believe that legalization of surrogacy alone would solve China’s baby boom dilemma, he espouses it as a step toward contributing to China’s already expanding reproductive freedom.
Watch the video here.