Recently, some private websites have openly posted advertisements seeking young women, especially college students, to become surrogate mothers. They offer payment of up to 100,000 Yuan (US$12,450).
The successful applicants are evaluated on their appearance and education level with their scores linked to payment rates, reports the Guangzhou New Express after a three-month-long investigation.
The newspaper's reporter discovered that it's common for some private websites on chat sites like QQ, and MSN to list voluntary surrogate mothers and information about special services for people who are unable to have babies.
Driven by potentially huge profits, websites that initially offered to help sterile women without charge are now beginning to ask for payment for their services.
In January, a reporter from Guangzhou New Express pretending to be a mother unable to have a baby, made an anonymous call to the New Star website, a private Internet agency known for its surrogate mother services.
A woman surnamed Chen responded that all surrogate mothers on the rolls were required to be healthy and under 32 years old, without any history of genetic diseases or abortion.
"We normally recommend artificial insemination," she told the reporter, "but customers themselves should first find a suitable ovum from a surrogate mother and go to a specialist hospital to complete the insemination process with sperm."
Chen promised that customers would not suffer any physiological losses while responding to the concern over the low rate of pregnancy.
"Also, you will not involved into any financial trouble whether you are successful or not," she added.
The reporter expressed concerned about the possibility of a surrogate mother having sexual intercourse with her husband if she was unable to become pregnant.
"Personally, I don't approve of such actions. However, our company will not interfere with customers' private affairs on the condition that all three sides agreed on the issue," Chen replied.
However, Chen said that the website will not take responsibility for any disagreement between surrogate mothers and customers after the baby was born.
"We try our best to select surrogate mothers who live near the customers and arrange two sides make a contract," she said, "We also verify surrogates mothers' personal information and keep it confidential."
Chen said that the contract is legal and again promised to destroy customers' confidential records after their contract expired.
She seemed to be aware of the reporter's intentions and rang off when the reporter wanted to investigate further into the matter.
An unnamed lawyer says that the surrogate mother service has already infringed on women's rights to bear children from a legal point of view.
It has challenged mainstream society's morality, and it may lead to practical problems including issues of confused relations between relatives, inheritance rights and fostering.
And babies born to surrogate mothers, who suffer congenital diseases, may not have their rights and interests fully protected.
However, the 2001 regulations regarding assisted procreation technology issued by China's Ministry of Health don't explicitly prohibit agencies like these websites from providing surrogate mother services, the lawyer added.
(China Daily April 5, 2006)