Surrogacy: For Love But Not for Money?

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    40 Citations (Scopus)


    Recent cases in the United States and Australia have catapulted surrogacy into the forefront of debates and public policy regarding new procreative technologies, even though gestating and birthing a baby for another woman does not necessarily involve artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization. Feminists have condemned commercial surrogacy because it borders on baby selling and exploits women. Similar criticism has appeared in the mass media, but these forums, as well as the medical profession, have considered noncommercial surrogacy as more acceptable because of the absence of monetary exchange. Using two cases of surrogacy, this article argues that the distinction between commercial and altruistic surrogacy is socially constructed rather than based on self-evident or intrinsic differences. Both types of surrogacy involve the application of pervasive gender norms specifying that women's motivations to have children should be based on emotion, selflessness, and caring, not on self-interest, financial incentives, or pragmatism. Applying these norms renders commercial surrogacy deviant, but altruistic arrangements more acceptable. However, the article's central argument is that both types of agreement can entail exploitation, the denial of the birth mother's rights, and the severe reduction of her autonomy.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)30-48
    Number of pages19
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 1992


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