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Minister voices support for surrogacy under proper management
Central News Agency
2013-12-16 10:58 PM
Taipei, Dec. 16 (CNA) Health Minister Chiu Wen-ta said Monday at the Legislative Yuan that he supported surrogacy but argued that comprehensive regulations and management guidelines were necessary to give a legal foundation to the practice. Among the regulations needed is a ban on surrogate mothers donating the egg used for the child she gives birth to under surrogacy contracts, Chiu said at a hearing of the Legislature's Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee. The hearing was held to debate different versions of draft bills aimed at revising the Artificial Reproduction Act to provide legal grounds for surrogacy, which is currently not allowed in Taiwan. Chiu said people worry that surrogacy would spark many problems, including the relationship among surrogates, the children born under surrogacy contracts and the couples who become parents of surrogate-born children. Others fear the disputes that would result if one of the contracting parties were to go back on their commitment, such as if a newborn baby has birth defects or the surrogate claims parental rights, he noted. To prevent such problems from arising, Chiu said, comprehensive regulations and management guidelines were necessary. The legislation must be "conservative," Chiu stressed, because it is aimed at "treating infertility, not creating new lives." "Surrogacy should be seen as a medical treatment," he said. Health Promotion Administration (HPA) Director-General Chiou Shu-ti said at the hearing that her agency has finished drafting an amendment that would require surrogates to be Taiwanese nationals who have already given birth. The planned regulations also stipulate that surrogates could not use their own eggs and could bear children in a surrogate role no more than three times, but would have the right to terminate a pregnancy within 24 weeks of conception, Chiou said. Moreover, couples unable to provide either the egg or sperm would not be allowed to hire surrogates under the proposed amendment, Chiou said. The bill will be delivered to the Cabinet for screening and approval early next year before being submitted to the Legislative Yuan, Chiou said. Ruling Kuomintang Legislators Chiang Huei-chen and Su Ching-chuan and opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers Yu Mei-nu and Yeh Yi-jin also presented their own versions of amendments related to surrogacy at the hearing. The KMT lawmakers presented a bill similar to the government-backed proposal, stressing that a surrogate mother cannot provide the egg for the child she delivers. Their bill would also limit the surrogacy option to married couples in which the woman cannot bear a child because she does not have a womb, while the DPP proposal would include unmarried people needing artificial reproduction, such as single women capable of raising children, to the list of those eligible. Citing an assessment by the medical sector, Chiang said that around 300,000 people among women aged 22 to 40 in Taiwan are likely infertile, and 10-20 percent of such women cannot bear children because of uterus damage. (By Lung Ruei-yun and Elizabeth Hsu)
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