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Province investigates 'octuplet' couple

12-21-2011 10:09 BJT

GUANGZHOU - The Guangdong provincial department of health has set up a task force to investigate a wealthy couple who used in vitro fertilization to have "octuplets" with the help of surrogate mothers.

The department reiterated that offering surrogate mothers runs counter to the regulations on the management of reproductive technologies issued by the Ministry of Health.

The provincial department has suspended the licensing of any new reproductive technological service centers and agencies, it said in a statement released on its website on Tuesday.

"An investigation has also been launched into the 38 licensed medical institutions and centers that have been authorized to provide the supporting reproductive technological services in the entire province starting from Tuesday," said the statement.

The investigation focuses on whether the institutions and centers illegally traded in unfertilized and fertilized human eggs and embryos, illegally practiced in vitro fertilization, or used sperm from an unauthorized sperm bank.

"Any found to have violated the laws and regulations will be seriously punished under the law," the statement said.

The provincial department of health urged the public to report any such illegal activities.

The statement was published after Guangzhou Daily reported on Monday that a local wealthy couple had given birth to "octuplets".

The woman, a resident of Guangzhou's Panyu district, had eight of her eggs fertilized through an in vitro procedure last year. The woman and her husband decided to keep all of the viable fetuses.

They hired two surrogate mothers, one to carry two and the other three of the test-tube babies. The woman herself carried three.

The babies, four boys and four girls, were born in September and October 2010.

Zhang Feng, director of the provincial commission of population and family planning, said the couple had violated family planning policies, regulations.

"The supporting reproductive technologies should be used to help people who are sterile, but the couple have abused the technologies," Zhang told Nanfang Daily.

The couple should be punished if they are found to have violated the family planning polices and regulations, said Zhang, who is also deputy secretary-general of Guangdong provincial government.

Liu Wenjing, a professor from the Ji'nan University law school, said the couple violated China's family planning policies and regulations.

"But the case indicates that China lacks laws to standardize the use of supporting reproductive technologies and punish surrogate mothers," Liu told Guangzhou Daily.

Dong Yuzheng, a medical ethics expert and secretary-general of the Guangdong provincial commission of population and family planning, said many foreign countries and regions have banned surrogate mothers.

"But many agencies that offer surrogate mothers have been set up in China because of the large profit to be had in recent years," Dong told Guangzhou Daily.

The number of sterile people is increasing annually because of the pollution of the environment, Dong added.

Editor:Wang Chuhan |Source: China Daily

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