China’s new “womb brokers” advertise through the Internet for young, healthy women willing to rent their womb so infertile couples can have a child. In a society where many still believe being childless is shameful, unprecedented prosperity is fueling a rapidly growing market for assisted reproduction.
Liu Jin Feng, who runs an agency in Guangzhou, says 80 percent of his customers are university- educated, and most are wealthy mainland Chinese who can afford the minimum 300,000 yuan fee.
Ms Wang, 28, an attractive, college-educated IT worker from Hunan province, agonised for six months before answering Mr Liu’s Internet ad.
“It’s not something honourable, so I haven’t told most of my friends. Everyone who chooses to become a surrogate does so for untellable reasons,” Ms Wang says.
She will use the fee to start up her own business and says she will have no difficulty giving up the baby as it “has nothing to do with her.” But she vehemently shakes her head when asked if she would consider surrogacy again.
While China’s Ministry of Health banned medical institutions from assisting in surrogate motherhood in 2001, it didn’t explicitly prohibit websites like Mr. Liu’s from doing the match-making, and making a profit.
For further reading, see extensive Chinese media reports on the legality and morality of the practice:
Surrogate mothers cashing in (China Daily, Aug. 28, 2007)
Online surrogacy agency gives birth to moral debate (China Daily, May 15, 2007)
China grapples with legality of surrogate motherhood (China.org.cn, June 5, 2006, from a Shanghai Morning Post undercover report)
Internet sites: Surrogate mothers wanted (China.org.cn, April 5, 2006, from a Guangzhou New Express undercover report)
Surrogate mother site grows in popularity (China Daily, Feb. 16, 2006)