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Friday, April 17, 2015

Beijing tries new tack in fight to stem surrogacy tide

China's health authorities announced last week they would join forces with the police and 10 other government agencies to enforce a ban on surrogate births.

The initiative, which will go until the end of 2015, aims to clamp down the birth alternative as it "severely interferes with China's lawful infertility treatments and the natural means by which married couples bear children, damages public health and impacts the implementation of the national birth policy," according to a note on the website of National Health and Family Planning Commission.

While surrogate birth is illegal under Chinese law, underground surrogate mothers and various services in the name of surrogacy provided by sex workers have thrived, reports our Chinese language sister paper Want Daily.

In China, many married couples with fertility problems have looked for alternatives to have a baby of their own, even if it is against the law. With business booming, other illegal trades in the name of surrogate birth services, mainly prostitution, have also mushroomed in the dark.

The internet, given its anonymity, has served as a haven for service providers for both surrogate birth and sex workers, and has become a major obstacle for control by authorities, the report said.

Many of the sex rings advertised on social networking media like instant messaging apps WeChat or the Sina Weibo, claim to provide surrogate services in the form of cohabitation. No necessary details such as the medical procedures were given; the ads merely suggest that the services involve sexual intercourse.

Some agents claim to provide "foreign ovum," and display photos of young, beautiful Thai ladies said to be potential surrogate mothers and ovum donors. It is unclear whether these agents actually mediate between foreign surrogate mothers and sterile couples.

There are home businesses getting in on the action too. A young woman claiming to be 19 posted a message online saying that she would be a surrogate mother for 300,000 yuan (US$4,800), and that "the odds of getting pregnant is minimum," a rather clear statement that she would be providing services other than giving birth to a child.


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