|Well, putting surrogate mothering under legal
regulation is certainly a progressive move, in the sense that finally those
women who seek alternative channels of reproduction can now do it with
some degree of legitimation under the law, instead of groping in the dark
as they have been doing for so many years. This is a breakthrough that
has been brought on, ironically, by the age-old Chinese belief in having
your own children to carry on the family name, a belief that is now exacerbated
by increasing threats of extramarital affairs which are using the infertility
of the wife as an excuse. And another significant development is that the
proposed bill changes the definition of "mother" from a biological one
to a legal one, thus making some progress in extricating women from their
seemingly natural association with motherhood. For feminists who have tried
to loosen the hold of traditional gender roles, this is certainly an important
Yet in the meantime we need also to be aware of several concomitant facts. First of all, the law sets various restrictions on the parties involved, for example, the wife involved must be naturally without a uterus or having had her uterus removed because of sickness. That means, other women who would like to benefit from the practice of surrogate mothering are still barred from it. Furthermore, the law decrees that one can use strangers, sisters, or cousins as surrogate mothers, but not aunts, mothers-in-law, or daughters--for fear that it may confuse kinship relationships. With such severe restrictions, and to avoid complications in getting a willing subject, women will be practically forced to turn to strangers for such contracts. Yet it is at this juncture that the law sets up severe punishments for those who mediate such transactions, making it extremely difficult for women who need this kind of service. In that sense, while making legal previously illegal acts of surrogate mothering, the proposed bill offers little help to alleviate the problems associated with illegal transactions.
One more thing, the proposed bill not only regulates the practices of surrogate mothering, but also prohibits other reproductive technologies, such as cloning, genetic engineering, asexual reproduction, etc. In these areas, the bill is certainly very conservative.