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Baby Boom for Surrogate Mothers Despite Ban
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Xu Yancheng delivers bundles of joy to many couples but is a criminal in the eyes of the law.


His business: Renting young women's wombs so that infertile couples can have children.


He finds healthy women for more than 30 couples each month, and around half of them get pregnant.


The Beijing-based agent for surrogate mothers has seen a boom in his business during the past year, despite the government's reiteration last April of the ban on abuse of assisted reproductive technology (ART), which involves surrogacy and the sale of eggs and sperm.


"I am satisfied with the money, but I am more satisfied with the couples' gratitude the moment I hand them the babies," Xu (not his real name) told China Daily yesterday. "I changed their destinies and in their eyes, I am a savior."


Xu, who has around 20 assistants working for him around the country, is only one of dozens of such agents who have set up websites in the past one or two years.


Demand for surrogate mothers is driven by well-to-do Chinese and foreigners.


Xu, a pioneer in the business who started his website in January 2004, said he provides rich customers with "high-quality" surrogate mothers. "Most of my customers are well-educated. They are the elite of our society," he claimed.


Around 10 foreigners, each married to a Chinese, also got babies with his help, Xu said.


A couple has to pay at least 200,000 yuan (US$25,500), including the surrogate mother's fees and expenses during pregnancy as well as commission for her agent.


The price goes up if the woman is good looking or has a good educational background. A college graduate can get at least 50,000 yuan (US$6,400) more.


Xu claimed that he doesn't have much difficulty finding women with college degrees. "In a tight employment market, pregnancy is not as difficult as job-hunting," he said.


The procedure goes like this: The clients meet the surrogate mother, pay a deposit and the balance after childbirth. Pregnancy is through in vitro fertilization.


There are no reliable figures on how widespread the practice is.


All the sides involved in such a pregnancy are violating the law, according to Shen Zheng, law professor at the China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing.


(China Daily February 6, 2007)

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