【明報專訊】VICE CHAIRMAN of Henderson Development Peter Lee, who is single, has fathered a triplet of boys with the help of a surrogate mother. The affair is pregnant with significance, and different people may look at it from different angles and have different perceptions of it.
Hong Kong's surrogacy law seems strict in the light of the atmosphere of the time. Under the Human Reproductive Technology (Licensing) Regulation, only infertile couples may make surrogacy arrangements, and no domestic partners or homosexuals may do so. No surrogacy arrangements may be made on a commercial basis. The gametes must come from a married couple. Surrogate mothers lend others only their wombs and are not genetically connected with the children they have carried. Furthermore, under Hong Kong law, a baby belongs to the woman who has been pregnant with and given birth to it whether or not she is a surrogate mother. If a surrogate mother refuses to turn her baby over, there is nothing those who use her service can do about it even if she has agreed to do so. Since surrogacy is strictly regulated in Hong Kong, all those who seek surrogate mothers do so elsewhere. In fact, Peter Lee's triplets were born of a surrogate mother in the US.
Peter Lee could not be his triplets' father if Hong Kong law applied to the case. Since they were born in the US, Hong Kong law does not apply. Peter Lee being a permanent resident of Hong Kong, his triplets are also permanent residents of Hong Kong.
Hong Kong's strict surrogacy law is aimed at preventing custody litigation and controversy, which other places have often seen. The US saw the Baby M case in 1986. A woman in poor health was worried about the health implications of pregnancy. She therefore had a surrogate mother inseminated with her husband's sperm. After she had given birth to a baby, her maternal instinct caused her to fight with the couple for its custody. Eventually, a New Jersey court found for the couple but awarded her the right to visit the baby once a week. The case aroused much controversy about moral issues in the US.
Because of religious beliefs and morals, surrogacy has always been controversial. Under Hong Kong law, only married couples may enter into surrogacy arrangements. One may indeed say that strikes a proper balance between helping infertile couples and protecting morals. However, surrogacy restrictions are looser in the US than in Hong Kong, and America's technological advantages mean superb arrangements for surrogate childbirths can be made with ease there. Furthermore, Hong Kong citizens' children born of surrogate mothers in the US have the same status as those born here. Therefore, all Hong Kong citizens known to have used surrogacy services have made surrogacy arrangements in the US.
One argument against surrogacy is that artificial reproduction may damage the established family system. Children born of surrogate mothers may wonder who their mothers are. They are liable to role confusion. When consanguinity is uncertain, incest may happen. It is necessary to prevent such consequences.
Hong Kong's surrogacy law is practical, for it allows infertile couples to enjoy the bliss of parenting. Nevertheless, now technology has advanced, societies have evolved and morals have changed with time, it is advisable to look further at the legislation governing surrogacy arrangements.