Reproductive ‘Surrogacy’ and Parental Licensing

Bioethics 29 (5):353-361 (2014)
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A serious moral weakness of reproductive ‘surrogacy’ is that it can be harmful to the children who are created. This article presents a proposal for mitigating this weakness. Currently, the practice of commercial ‘surrogacy’ operates only in the interests of the adults involved , not in the interests of the child who is created. Whether ‘surrogacy’ is seen as the purchase of a baby, the purchase of parental rights, or the purchase of reproductive labor, all three views share the same significant flaws. They endorse the transfer, for a fee, of the infant from the woman who gestated it to those who commissioned it, but without justifying such a transfer; they fail to demonstrate that the commissioners have any entitlement to the infant, or, for that matter, suitability to be the infant's parents; and they fail to take any notice of the infant's needs, interests, and wellbeing. A mere genetic connection is not enough to establish that the commissioners are entitled to receive the baby or that they are competent to raise it. Their good intentions, however caring, are not enough. Therefore, just as in the practice of adoption, there should be a formal institutionalized system for screening and licensing the prospective social parents, which would make the infant's needs, interests, and wellbeing paramount. I reply to several potential objections to this proposal, including the objection that genetic parents who raise their own child are not screened and licensed



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Christine Overall
Queen's University

Citations of this work

The complex case of Ellie Anderson.Joona Räsänen & Anna Smajdor - 2022 - Journal of Medical Ethics 48 (4):217-221.
Against private surrogacy: a child-centred view.Anca Gheaus - forthcoming - Oxford University Press.
Fiduciary Duties and Commercial Surrogacy.Emma A. Ryman - 2017 - Dissertation, University of Western Ontario

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