Bioethics News

IVF boom in China following one-child backflip

After the Chinese government’s abandonment of the one-child policy, scores of older couples are turning to IVF in a desperate bid to have a second child.

According to government officials, demand for IVF at major clinics in Beijing and Shanghai has increased dramatically. “Fertility centres at renowned medical organisations in Beijing and Shanghai and others are under increased pressure for treatments,” officials from the Women’s and Children’s Department said.  

“More and more women are coming to ask to have their second child,” said Liu Jiaen, who runs a private hospital in Beijing treating infertility through IVF, in which an egg and sperm are combined in a laboratory dish and the resulting embryo is transferred to a woman’s uterus.

Dr Liu told Associated Press that he estimated the numbers of women coming to him for IVF had risen by 20% since the relaxation of the policy, which came into effect at the start of the year. Before, the average age of his patients was about 35. Now most of them are older than 40 and some of the women are fast approaching 50, he said.

There are also reports that an increasing number of Chinese couples are heading overseas for IVF treatment. IVF treatment in other countries is typically cheaper and also gives parents the option of choosing the gender of their child (sex-selective IVF is prohibited in China).

According to the Global Times, the number of IVF tourism agencies in China has increased from five in 2013 to over 50 in 2016.

“In 2014, our agency received an average of four patients per month,” said Anna Yao, the marketing director of IVF tourism agency Kai Xin Guo.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.