China to consider giving single women IVF access to mitigate drop in population

Doctor Xu Xiaoming, director of the embryologic laboratory of the assisted reproductive centre, shows the room for egg retrieval surgery, at the Beijing Perfect Family Hospital, which specialises in fertility treatments, in Beijing. Reuters

In a bid to reverse the trend of a declining population, China is considering providing IVF services to single women.

One such woman, 33-year-old Chen Luojin, wants to opt for in vitro fertilisation treatment for herself. Seeking the service will be relatively easier for her since Chengdu, the capital of the southwestern Sichuan province has  legalised registration of children by unmarried women in February, something China is considering implementing nationwide to address record-low birth rates.

The new rules would allow unmarried women to take paid maternity leave and receive child subsidies previously only available to married couples. Crucially, Chen could access in-vitro fertility (IVF) treatment legally in a private clinic.

Chen said, “Becoming a single parent is not for everyone, but I’m happy with the decision. Equally, getting married or not is for each individual to decide. We have liberalised the policies here and I know a lot of single women are doing IVF.”

Worried about the country’s massive population drop, a phenomenon that has cost its position as the world’s most populous country, political advisors proposed in March that single and unmarried women be allowed to freeze their eggs and obtain IVF treatment, among other services. China’s leaders have not commented publicly on the recommendations.

Liberalising IVF nationwide could unleash more demand for fertility treatment in what is already the world’s biggest market, straining limited fertility services. Some investors in the industry see an opportunity to expand.

“If China changes their policy to allow single women to have children, this can result in an increase of IVF demand,” said Yve Lyppens, director of business development for Asia Pacific at INVO Bioscience, which is awaiting regulatory approval to launch its IVF technology in China after signing a distribution agreement with Guangzhou-based Onesky Holdings last year.

With inputs from agencies

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