Surrogacy, especially complete surrogacy, refers to a surrogate woman who accepts the fertilized egg of an infertile couple into her uterus to achieve pregnancy for that couple. In almost ten months she will give birth to a baby who belongs not to her but to the infertile couple. Such surrogacy, along with relevant assisted reproductive technology, has been highly controversial since its introduction. It is well known that important ethical issues surround such surrogacy, including: should such unnatural surrogacy be resisted or prohibited? Is lending one’s uterus in such surrogacy compatible with a proper notion of human dignity? If such surrogacy is morally acceptable, should it be commercialized?
Since 2001, the Chinese Ministry of Health has completely banned the practice of such surrogacy through administrative regulations. However, this has merely produced an “underground” surrogate industry, but has not reduced the demand for surrogate mothers. This essay intends to defend surrogate technology and surrogate motherhood from the Confucian notion of “creative creativity” and “benevolent love.”
Surrogate technology, which offers assistance to produce human life through artificial means, brings hope to infertile couples who wish to have children. This is in conformance with the Confucian notion of “creative creativity.” It provides an artificial way to make up for deficiencies in human natural reproduction. A surrogate mother is compassionate towards infertile families. She is willing to sacrifice her personal interests for the welfare of others, reflecting the lofty moral values of the Confucian tradition.
In addition, this article appeals to certain basic Confucian ethical principles to address relevant issues. These principles include the principles of “cherishing life,” “benevolence,” “justice,” and “harmony.” The principle of cherishing life requires that every human being should have respect for and love life, and this is taken to be an inherent requirement of human nature in Confucian thought. The principle of benevolence refers to the requirement that everyone should care for others and follow the golden rule, namely, that one should not do to others what one does not want others to do oneself. Confucian justice is considered a basic virtue in social distribution, and government should take care of those who are unfortunate or vulnerable. In the medical field, this is particularly reflected in the equitable distribution of medical resources. The principle of harmony requires that each individual should have peaceful contact with others and get along with others in a friendly way; it also requires that everyone make important decisions together with their close family members in relevant medical contexts. Taking all of these principles together, the Chinese government should not ban surrogacy through administrative regulations. It is only proper to guide surrogate practices through certain rules and norms, so that the legitimate interests of both infertile couples and surrogate mothers can be adequately protected in terms of suitable Confucian ethical considerations.