An American who has lived in Taiwan for nearly a decade has launched an online petition calling for single women to have the right to access in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment.

“I can adopt a child as a single woman, but I cannot get the treatment needed to have one on my own,” writes Michelle Senczi. “I believe this law to be unfair as not all women want to get married but still have a desire to be a mother, and government should not be able to decide what a woman can do with her body.”

Senczi adds that getting the law changed will not help her situation personally, as her “time limit is too short,” but she hopes the petition will help other women in the same situation.

In 2015, the number of single women in Taiwan over the age of 15 reached over 3 million, up 13% from 10 years earlier. Taiwan has a population of 23.5 million.

Many women use fertility banks to increase their chances of pregnancy at a later age. However, according to Taiwan’s Artificial Reproduction Act, only married couples have access to IVF treatment. This means that even if a woman used a fertility clinic when she was younger but did not marry, she is not allowed to IVF.

The law has also been criticized by feminist groups for discriminating against single women.

The petition, which requires 100 signatures before it can be delivered to President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), has 30 supporters at the time of writing.

Career or family?

In an announcement on June 22, the Ministry of the Interior published statistics regarding pregnancies in Taiwan last year. The average age for married women to have a child has risen to above 30. In Taipei, the average age is over 32.

In addition, the rate of women who have a third child has dropped from about 38% in 1975 to only 10% last year. Hua Ching-chun (花敬群), deputy minister of the interior, said the younger a mother has her first baby, the more likely she will be to have a second and a possibly a third.

Wang Chih-yin (王之盈), a 25-year-old woman who has been in a relationship for more than two years, told The News Lens International that she doesn’t plan to get married in the near future, and that she may not ever have children.

“Getting married will keep us from achieving certain life goals. And so will kids,” says Wang. She says if she did have a child, she might need to give up work and take care of the baby, instead of her future husband.

There are many women who refuse to get pregnant earlier in order to fulfill career or academic plans. Some believe that trying to have children over the age 32 could lead to difficulties in getting pregnant. Some doctors even say mothers should get pregnant no later than aged 28. Although IVF is increasingly common, older mothers may be prone to difficulties.

Taiwan is known worldwide for its high quality fertility services, especially IVF treatment. The success rate of IVF in Taiwan is about 40% to 60%, close to U.S rates. The price of the treatment in Taiwan ranges from NT$150,000 to NT$300,000 (US$4,600 to US$9,000), about half of the price in Singapore, Hong Kong and China, and three times cheaper than in the U.S.

First Editor: Edward White
Second Editor: Olivia Yang