Knowledge Sharing


Discussion on surrogate mother

Author: Cai Hui-Ya

The first public hearing on the legalization of “surrogate mother” between May and June, 1996, has led to heated discussion on this issue. There are debates on ethics, legality, social impacts, as well as voices of deep expectations from infertility patients. Zhan Chin-Shean, the director of MOHW, instructed “surrogate mother” as a trend as the number of people currently suffering from infertility has increased and the demand for "surrogate mothers" has increased (Union Daily News, 1997.9.13). Globally, the current infertility ratio is about 10% to 15% of the people of reproductive age (22-40 years), that is, about 300,000 people in Taiwan may have symptoms of infertility. Among them, females with uterine problemsaccount for about 10 to 20% of infertile women, which means there are about 5000-10,000 femaledifficult to get pregnant and have children with their own wombs (Department of Health, 1997), so these populations will be a high-risk group of seeking a surrogate mother for pregnancy.

“Surrogate mother”, practice in which a woman (the surrogate mother) receive an embryo transfer to her reproductive system and bears a child for a couple unable to produce children in the usual way, usually because the wife is infertile. During the surrogate motherhood, there is no sexual behavior between the male part of the infertile couple and the surrogate mother. Surrogate is different from traditional “inseminated and give birth to a baby” for an infertile couple, and she has to return the newborn baby to the infertile couple. However, there are still unclear about the definition and decision of surrogate mother candidates. The most important reason for a couple to have surrogate mother for pregnancy is to carry a child on their own bloodline, this is actually an universal demand both in Chinese traditional culture and in foreign countries without traditional cultural constraints.

During my researchon infertility, the contact with several infertile females let me realize their arduous journey. In their opinions, the greatest source of stress caused by infertility came from three aspects: one is traditional Chinese concept of lineage succession; another is the expectations and expected responsibilities in the marriage, including self-expectations and those from relatives, friends, and society); the other is the impact of receiving infertility treatment on physiology and life. Even nowadays, there are still some women take “get pregnant and childbirth” as a goal of self-realization and are suffered from infertility.

Infertile patients also mentioned that infertility indeed brought negative effects on their lives, such as depression, hair-splitting, and even thoughts of committing suicide. These has introduced more argue and confliction in their family life. The worse is coming up with thoughts of divorce in order to let the husband have a child.

How did the infertile women adaptwhen they face these pressures? In our experiences, they often seek help from their husbands and relatives, and less from in-laws and medical professionals. Actually, the husbands play an important role in infertility. After all, "pregnancy and childbirth" is a matter for two, and the husbands’ consideration and sympathy is the greatest support for their wives.

In fact, the infertile women are not alone, social workers and consultants in every hospital are willing to accompany. We highly encourage the infertile women to use medical resources without hesitation such that we can do our best from them.