My wife just went in for an amniocentesis today, and I thought it would be worthwhile to write up something here.
Many pregnant women in Taiwan are told that, if they're over 34, they must under the law have an amniocentesis done. Also, there is a lot of talk about a new rule that Taiwanese doctors are not supposed to disclose the gender of a fetus/baby to the parents. Here's the straight story from my colleague, Indy Liu, a Taiwan-registered lawyer with a particularly strong interest in health-related legal issues:
1. Amniocentesis: There is no law that requires a compulsory amniocentesis, even for pregnant women over the age of 34. However, the Bureau of Health Promotion, the competent agency under the Dept. of Health, only strongly encourages women by providing a TWD 2,000 subsidy. This is contrary to several hospitals that have been telling pregnant women that they *must* get the check done.
2. Gender information: The DOH, under pressure from the Control Yuan and Legislative Yuan with regards to gender-screening abuse issues, issued a letter to 77 hospitals (cc'd to all local Health Bureaus, medical associations, ob-gyn associations, etc.) to state that unless it is medically necessary then it is prohibited to inform parents about the gender of the fetus/baby. Legally speaking, the letter is only an "administrative guidance" rather than binding regulations, but it is thought to have drawn a powerful line for physicians about how and what to inform patients.
In addition, according to a DOH official's statement, the DOH letter might help establish the doctor's intent -- if a doctor informs a parent of a baby's gender and the parents then get an abortion, then it might be more possible to pursue criminal charges against the doctor under Articles 289 and 290 of the Criminal Code. (The weird thing in Taiwan law is that there is a ban on abortions but that ban is filled with exceptions that are very broadly interpreted to allow abortions -- e.g., the health or mental well-being of the mother, etc.) Such establishment of "intent" may also matter if there is an administrative or professional sanction against the doctor.