Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The politics of surrogacy

Megan McArdle reminded me of a paper I wrote last year on the politics and ethics surrounding surrogacy pregnancy. The article she links to "Fetal Foreclosure" talks of surrogate mother aborting babies when the money dries up. If proper contracts were drawn to establish the parameters involved, hopefully these abortions could be avoided. This is what I essentially argued in my paper - here's the introduction:

"Outsourcing Baby"
Although a longstanding practice that in varying forms dates back to Biblical times, modern issues surrounding surrogate motherhood challenge our preconceived notions about the social ideal of motherhood. What does it mean to be a mother if the bond between mother and child can be so readily severed? “Thus far, the image of surrogate mothers has been shaped principally by media, legal, and scholarly portrayals of surrogates either as motivated principally by monetary gain or as unwitting, altruistic victims of the patriarchy” (Ragone 2008 p.68). This dichotomous depiction ignores the dynamics of race, class, and gender in this delicate arrangement. Many groups in society question the ethics behind this production of children from “conservative Christians [who] decry the practice as tampering with the miracle of life…[to] far-left feminists [who] liken gestational carriers to prostitutes who degrade themselves by renting out their bodies” (Ali 2008). These issues challenge the “overriding cultural imperative that motherhood, reproduction, and family be squarely situated in a noncommercial sphere” (Ragone 2008 p.69). Modern technology continues to diminish the role of the surrogate by making pregnancy easier and her egg/ovum unnecessary. Policymakers need to be wary of this moral hazard. If surrogacy is to be an ethical and sustainable practice which enhances life chances as opposed to limiting them, policymakers should regulate interstate surrogacy so that contracts are between parties of similar geography if not class to minimize discrimination and patterns of stratification.

Please excuse the sociological mumbo jumbo language - it was done to appease my uber liberal professor (the one who called Phyllis Schafly the devil and Charles Murray the antichrist).

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