Surrogacy and the construction of the maternal-foetal relationship: The feminist dilemma examined

Res Publica 7 (1):13-37 (2001)
The feminist movement remains fundamentally divided over the issue of surrogacy. Within the confines of this article it is argued that the inadequacy of positions on both sides of the debate rests upon their common tendency to deal with the ethical consequences of surrogacy for isolated agents, without sufficient concern for the broader social implications for all pregnant women in society. In order to clarify the issues involved, feminist theorists must consider the implications of surrogacy in a broader social spectrum. Such an analysis will illustrate that the two-person dichotomous model of the maternal-foetal relationship proposed by the surrogacy arrangement has hugely prejudicial effects on the treatment received by non-contract mothers when they interact with agents of certain social institutions whose prior contact with surrogate mothers has made them more susceptible to conceiving the maternal-foetal relationship as fundamentally disconnected. In a climate of increased medical surveillance and intervention in the non-clinical context of pregnancy, the dangers of adopting this dichotomous model are palpable. Given the oppressive physical and psychological effect that this would have upon the liberty of the majority of pregnant women in society, this article argues that the feminist movement must abandon any promotion of the abstracted model of the mother-foetus relationship that is implicit in its arguments in favour of surrogacy.
Keywords feminism  maternal-foetal relationship  pregnancy  surrogacy
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Reprint years 2004
DOI 10.1023/A:1009691303212
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