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2014年5月13日 (火)

生殖医療法案 代理出産を巡る議論深めたい

The Yomiuri Shimbun 6:51 pm, May 12, 2014
In-depth deliberations imperative over legislation to allow surrogacy
生殖医療法案 代理出産を巡る議論深めたい

Legal arrangements have regrettably been lagging behind rapid advances in reproductive medicine, such as surrogacy. Both the ruling and opposition camps should engage in thorough deliberations in the Diet on this matter.

The Liberal Democratic Party’s project team concerning reproductive medicine has put together a bill regarding assisted reproductive technology. The bill, which the LDP team will submit to the current Diet session, allows, subject to certain conditions, such reproductive treatments as external fertilization, or pregnancy through eggs or sperm donated by third parties other than those of the married couple concerned, and surrogate motherhood.

According to the bill, those who will be permitted to act as intermediaries for donors and recipients of eggs or sperm are to be limited to government-authorized nonprofit organizations. The procedure of in vitro fertilization will be carried out by medical institutions with the authorization of the health, labor and welfare minister. The proposed bill places a ban on the purchase and sale of sperm and eggs, with penalties for violators.

As for surrogate motherhood, a major focus of attention in the reproductive medical assistance bill, such methods are to be acknowledged only if a woman is born without a womb or her womb has been removed through a surgical procedure because of disease.

There have been endless cases in which couples head overseas to such countries as India with the aim of having a child through surrogacy. Such couples pay women with low incomes to become surrogate mothers. With a view to changing this state of affairs, the team of LDP lawmakers appears to have reached the conclusion that it is necessary to allow surrogate motherhood under certain conditions in this country.

2 mothers, 1 baby

However, there are still deep-seated objections among LDP legislators against surrogacy.

Their objections are based on such reasons as it being ethically problematic for married couples to have third parties shoulder the risks accompanying childbirth, since the lives of surrogate mothers could be endangered during delivery.

In the event of a couple making use of surrogacy refusing to take in the newborn baby for such reasons as a possible disability in the child, or if a surrogate mother declines to hand over the baby, there will certainly be grave impediments to the growth of the child.

There is another major problem with assisted reproductive technology: the relationship between a child and the parents can become complicated. Surrogacy is accompanied by the problem that there are two mothers: the “birth mother” who actually gives birth and the “genetic mother.”

In the proposed legislation, a stipulation will be provided in this respect that “the woman who performs the childbirth must be recognized as the baby’s mother.” Can it be easy, however, to clarify, by this stipulation alone, who should assume the responsibility to raise the child if trouble arises over surrogacy?

In addition, it is possible a person born through assisted reproductive technology could be shocked to learn after growing up that he or she was born through assisted reproduction involving a third party. What should be done if and when a child born through such reproductive methods wants to know his or her origin? The assisted reproductive technology bill has fallen short of clarifying how to deal with this kind of situation, even though many people are calling for the creation of a system for the disclosure of information on origins.

Regarding reproductive medicine, the health ministry’s advisory council issued a set of proposals in 2003 calling for legislative arrangements concerned. In the more than 10 years since then, fertility treatments in which external fertilization using eggs or sperm from third parties have been carried out with no statutory arrangements at all.

The Diet should waste no time in crafting a pertinent system by referring to relevant examples in foreign countries where legal arrangements covering reproductive medicine have advanced.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 12, 2014)


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