Surrogacy debate gains 810m views on China’s Weibo

A discussion surrounding the morality of surrogacy has blown up on the Chinese social media platform Weibo.

This was prompted by the news that Chinese celebrity Zheng Shuang had two surrogate children in the US with her ex-boyfriend Zhang Heng. They chose to have a surrogate pregnancy in the US because the practice is illegal in China.

Heng recently accused Shuang of trying to force the surrogate mothers to terminate their seven-month pregnancies in 2019 when their relationship came to an end. When this was unsuccessful, Shuang abandoned the two children leaving Heng and his family to move to the US to care for them. Shuang has received heavy criticism from Chinese netizens and has been dropped as an ambassador for Prada after just eight days.

The scandal has also sparked a debate about the legality of surrogacy. The hashtag “#why we should be against surrogacy” gained 810 million views and another “#our country is against any form of surrogacy” hit 430 million views on Weibo.

Comments expressed concerns about the commercialisation of surrogacy. Netizens said that it makes surrogate parents into “products” where pregnancy becomes labour in exchange for money and childbirth becomes a job that can be outsourced. They also raised questions about the motivations of both sides. Cases of women living in poor, rural areas in China being forced to be surrogate mothers or doing it for the financial reward caused some to believe that surrogacy destroys the reproductive rights of women.

Netizens also expressed worry about the impact on the mental and physical health of surrogate mothers. Abortions and parting with a newborn child can lead to depression and other mental health problems. Others commented that binding agreements can be problematic for both sides and the unborn child, especially if one party later wants to terminate the contract.

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