This article from nddaily talks about surrogate pregnancy (which is currently not legal in China) has already become commercialized in the Chinese society. Being illegal yet with lack of regulations, many intermediary agencies are able to profit greatly from it. Surrogate pregnancy in China today even evolved into impregnating by having sex with the volunteer which is questioned of being a sex transaction. Many escort girls (sex workers) have started to join the profession of being surrogate mother because of the great profits.
Surrogate Pregnancy is no longer the news (in China). However recently a man in Shenzhen was trying to find a surrogate mother but thought he was being swindled of money by the intermediary agency. This triggered the media to pay close attention to surrogate pregnancy. Currently, has surrogate pregnancy become an industry? Who are these surrogate mothers? How does surrogate pregnancy middle man agency dance around this gray area? Reporter conducted some investigations.
Shenzhen Futian district resident Mr. Hong and his wife are already over 50, they rarely see their only son because he is away overseas. Therefore they came up with the idea of having another child so there will be someone to look after them in the future. But the wife was too old to have another child. Because of the good financial situation, they thought of surrogate pregnancy, Mr. Hong finally found a well-known website called “Xiang Huo Surrogate Pregnancy” (香火代孕).
September 2nd website assistant made an appointment for a surrogate mother in Shenzhen to meet with Mr. Hong. According to Mr. Hong, they met in front of a KFC in Futian district. He learned that she graduated from a teacher training college, from Jilin, 1.68 meters in height. The volunteer said she just graduated not long ago, all of the money for school was borrowed from everywhere, and her mother passed away. She was in desperate need of money, therefore she wanted to become a surrogate mother. She demanded 160,000 yuan of commission, monthly salary of 3,500 yuan before pregnancy plus her rent. Mr. Hong said, after already paid the website 13,000 yuan for the hook up, this volunteer demanded for her first month salary 3,500 to be paid right then. But Mr. Hong insisted to pay in the middle of the month. They could not come to an agreement terms, volunteer stormed off, and could not even be reached by phone again. Mr. Hong felt he was swindled and the woman volunteer was a fake.
Mr. Hong forwarded a text message to the reporter saying it was sent by the volunteer. “First pay 3,500 we will rent a room in a hotel immediately, not paying, I am angry and quit.” As it turned out, Mr. Hong wanted to have “natural pregnancy” after he has sex with the female volunteer. “We have signed contract, requested first get pregnant “naturally”, if not successful in half of year, then go to the hospital.” Mr. Hong said, surrogate pregnancy is not “sex transaction”, must slowly proceed according to the contract. He did not think when he refused to pay 3,500 of salary first she would refuse to have sex with him and left. He suspected that she was a fake.
Yesterday reporter contacted the website person in charge Milan (米兰). Milan said this female volunteer was not a fake. She said when Mr. Hong could not contact the volunteer, he did not call Milan. And when Milan called Mr. Hong he did not answer the phone. When Milan was trying to find Mr. Hong another volunteer, because of the misunderstanding, Mr. Hong and Milan had a fight over the phone. Milan said that particular volunteer called her after, saying she did not want Mr. Hong as a customer, requested to find another. “This is because of their personalities, they do not get along, this girl has a hot temper and Mr. Hong is also weird.” Milan said, after both of them cool off a little, she will find another new surrogate mother for Mr. Hong.
So who are these surrogate mothers? And how are their living conditions? Reporter secretly interviewed a girl currently being a surrogate.
Afraid of the reporter to find out her real name and address, this surrogate mother refused to give her real name, not even only the last name. “Just call me girl, or ‘Little Red’ (小红).
Red was from Hangzhou, 24 years old, never been married. Her “customer” is one of Red’s friends. According to her, the friend first came to her, but because without the proper technology they cannot achieve “test tube baby”. So he found the surrogate pregnancy website agency, who were responsible to arrange everything. Currently they put her in a hotel, all meals were provided by the hotel. “All I do is eat, sleep and watch TV.” Red said, basically just eat and then sleep, sleep than grow (the baby). Also rarely have a chance to meet the male party. If she is really bored she wwill go chat at the website agency office. Afraid to gain too much weight so she can’t find a good husband in the future, she does not eat too much, even though nourishment expenses are covered by the customer.
Red said, in the first 3 month of the pregnancy monthly salary is 2000 yuan, plus the nourishment expenses. After she gets successfully pregnant she will receive a 30,000 yuan of deposit. Right before the baby is born she will receive the full amount. Red estimated total commission of over 100,000 yuan, because she was pregnant with twins.
“Normally I don’t go out much, first afraid to affect the baby, secondly scared of getting caught, feels like a crime.” Red said, this line of work cannot see the light, it will be trouble if she gets caught. Plus she is afraid her parents finding out. “If I was caught and send back to my family, they will kill me.” Red said, she will stop after this time being surrogate mother. The money is enough to start her business.
Surrogate pregnancy Website Owner said surrogate pregnancy is already industrialized, hoping to be legalized someday.
“From what I see, surrogate pregnancy can only be done on behalf of one’s conscience.” Milan said to the reporter, being surrogate pregnancy middle man agency is doing a good deed, and it is not enough, must have sincerity of the seeker plus the sense of responsibility of the surrogate mother, then god will grant your offspring.
Milan introduced market conditions and the operating process. Usually customer first pay 10,000 yuan for deposit, then customer and surrogate mother meet for negotiation. Customer and volunteer sign a contract, volunteer and the website sign another contract. If there are conflicts between the customer and the volunteer, website will be responsible to reconcile, if unsuccessful, website agency will pay 3,000 yuan to surrogate mother as compensation.
In regards to the legality of these 2 contracts, Milan thinks surrogate pregnancy only lives in the civil society, (surrogate pregnancy is not legal in China), obviously there are no guaranteed legal protections. Customers must be very careful, only pay if they are sure of success. The contract is basically a gentlemen’s agreement, will not be escalated legally. Therefore whether the contract is reliable or not, the key is having mutual trust, that’s why surrogate pregnancy is to be called “business of conscience.”
Although people outside of the circle of surrogate pregnancy do not recognize it as a business, but people in the circle know it has already been industrialized. Milan said surrogate pregnancy is mainly achieved in 2 ways, test tube baby and artificial insemination. Use test tube baby as an example, total cost is about 190,000 yuan. In this 190,000 yuan includes the most, commission of the surrogate mother 100,000 yuan, agency finding fee 14,000 yuan, 30,000 – 50,000 goes to the hospital, middle man between the agency and the hospital takes another 30,000 – 50,000 yuan. Other than these, surrogate mother’s salary and her shots cost another 10,000 and so. Also the total cost depends on the overall quality of the surrogate mother. As to which hospital is actually practicing these cases, Milan refused to reveal. Reporter learned that, doctors who take the case usually claim to just helping a friend or practice their skills for free. This way they sound legitimate when operating, but in fact they all have received money under the table.
“We also look forward to legalizing surrogate pregnancy so that it will also be a good thing for the infertility patients.” Milan said, in the future when it is legalized, patients will not need to spend so much money.
Natural Pregnancy or Sex Transaction?
Known as the “mother of China test tube baby” Zhang Lizhu (张丽珠) in 1996 first successfully produced the first test tube baby. At that time surrogate pregnancy was purely a medical technology innovation, there were no commercial considerations. Today this field has become increasingly commercialized. What is more twisted is today surrogate pregnancy is evolved to impregnating by having sex.
One surrogate mother when introducing herself to a customer said, she is very pure, however some of the girls you will find on the website all smoke and drink, some even have sexual transmitted diseases. What she mean is the best choice is to impregnate her by having sex with her. Another surrogate mother via test tube baby told the reporter, currently many surrogate mothers choose to live with the customers. Also many escort girls (三陪女: the service of young girls in entertainment places to accompany guests in singing, drinking or eating and dancing with erotic character. Some of them are really prostitutes.) are entering the group of surrogate mothers.
Milan spoke out frankly, the cases of living with the client to get impregnated do exist, also escort girls started to appear in the surrogate mothers group. This also gave the agency headaches. Normally, our agency does not encourage impregnating by having sex, but in general customers and surrogate mother privately negotiate, agency cannot do anything about it. Milan states, Website is also finding ways to prevent escort girls posing, but the situation in the circle is, escort girls and surrogate mothers all have thier own fields, will not cross each other. In general, as long as they are in good health, even escort girls are not necessarily lower quality than a college graduate.
As to why customers choose to have sex with the surrogate mother in order to get them pregnant, Milan thinks the important reason is to save money because of the high cost of test tube baby and artificial insemination.
Many dispute over surrogate pregnancy, public needs to be cautious
Dr. Peng Bo (彭勃) of Shenzhen University School of Law said surrogate itself in the legal circles is also a highly controversy issue. There are only a few countries legally allow surrogate pregnancy.
Peng Bo said from a legal sense, the current domestic laws have not enacted any legislation to allow surrogacy, The surrogate’s identity and obligation is not clear; and custody of the children in the future is also an issue. Does the child belong to the mother giving birth or the mother of the egg? There might also be problem for the child to get his/her birth certificate. In terms of morality, traditional marriage, fertility and other controversy issues are also being challenged. In addition, surrogate pregnancy also has an impact on the existing “family planning policy” (China’s policy which only allows one child per family). Many In order to have a boy or to have another child are willing to achieve through surrogacy.
Peng Bo thinks surrogacy essentially is pregnant woman giving up her reproductive rights, which involves basic human rights. And further more, the social problems of using surrogacy to achieve cohabitation, infant trading and obtaining money should be attract more attentions from people and authorities. From legal reasoning, surrogate pregnancy should be illegal. In the current circumstances of uncertainties, I advise the public to be careful, do not use this approach.
Medical institutions to prohibit surrogacy
In recent years, the Ministry of Health experts based on "human assisted reproductive technology management practices," "Sperm Bank Management Regulations" and other relevant provisions of the conditions and the health bureau audit reports, conducted a review on the agencies of human assisted reproductive technology and human Sperm Banks. According to experts’ on-site assessment, as of June 30, 2007, Ministry of Health, examined and approved a total of 95 institutions in human assisted reproductive technology, 10 organizations to set up human sperm bank. It is noteworthy that the approval to carry out human assisted reproductive technology is only for infertility mothers themselves, without using a third party surrogate mother to get pregnant.
About the surrogate pregnancy, as early as 2007 the Ministry of Health had issued notice, any provincial level health administrative departments having human assisted reproductive technology, to implement of any form of surrogate technology and the sale of gametes, zygote, embryo, etc. shall be punished according to the laws, and to revoke its Human Assisted Reproductive Technology, and Human Sperm Bank licenses. However, this provision only defined the illegal nature of the surrogacy for the medical institutions. There are no restraints for a surrogate mother and surrogate intermediaries, as well as on surrogate pregnancy itself.