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(Lesbian mother Xiao Chen sends out letters to female NPC members on Jan.17 in Shenzhen. Courtesy of Xiao Chen)
Prior to China’s parliamentary session, a lesbian mother in Shenzhen, Guangdong province called on officials to end the limitations placed on unmarried women trying to have children through assisted reproductive technology (ART).
The woman, Xiao Chen (a pseudonym), on Jan.17 sent letters to 673 female members of the National People’s Congress (NPC) to make her case.
Xiao wrote in the letters that she and her partner are currently raising twin daughters, but the couple’s dream of having a baby, which began in 2008, cost them nearly 1 million RMB to realize. Their daughters were eventually born in the U.S. after preliminary fertility work was carried out in Thailand.
“As I look at my twins, growing every day, it is increasingly clear to me that I don’t want to see women like us continue to suffer,” Xiao said.
“I hope our nation can listen to our needs and understand the dilemma facing unmarried women. I hope that you as NPC members can help change the situation … I know that you as a woman, as mothers, as those hoping to become mothers, can understand the hardship brought about by shattered dreams of legal motherhood,” she added.
China’s law on population and family planning stipulates that all citizens enjoy reproductive rights, which many LGBT activists see as a legal basis for the right of unmarried women to give birth in the Chinese mainland. However, the nation currently bans ART for unmarried women, only allowing women to utilize frozen eggs if they can provide marriage certificates and birth permits, according to regulations from the National Health and Family Planning Commission.
Xiao also suggested in her letter that single women be permitted to use sperm banks. Currently, sperm banks also require marriage certificates and other documents for female applicants, Yangcheng Evening News reported.
For unmarried women, pregnancy itself is already full of obstacles. Single mothers in China are the recipients of not only unfriendly comments and societal discrimination, but also of financial burden, as their babies come with a “social maintenance fee” -- punishment for violating family planning policies.
Some 76.7 percent of 1,062 lesbian, bisexual and transsexual women surveyed said they wanted to give birth but were unable to do so, according to a report conducted by a Guangzhou-based NGO on unmarried women’s reproductive rights in November 2016.
The report also found that over 86 percent of more than 2,800 respondents said they support the right of unmarried women to have children.