According to Elizabeth Anderson, commercial surrogacy has been one of the practices which have gained notoriety as a children procurement method in recent years. A commercial surrogate mother has been described as any woman given financial remuneration to bear children for other people and afterwards terminates her parental rights, so that they may raise the child as their own. Due to the rapid growth of surrogacy, many concerns have been raised as regards the proper scope of the market. Critics has pointed out that commercial surrogacy improperly treats children and the surrogate mother as commodities and reduces children to consumer durables and women to baby producing factories is the main point behind their criticism (Anderson 72). At this point, i will like to explain to you what commodity really means as explained by the experts.
Anderson’s argument is that if we regard something as a proper commodity then what we are saying is that the norms of the market are appropriate for the regulation of its production, exchange, and enjoyment which would mean that if ethical ideas or moral principles preclude the application of market norms to a good then the good is not a proper commodity. The reason to object to the application of a market norm to the production or distribution of a good could be because the production or distribution of the good in accordance with the norm is to fail to value it in the proper way. Commodities are therefore defined as those things which are properly treated in accordance with the norms of the modern market. (Anderson 73).
According to Andrews, an increasing number of feminists are calling for the outright ban of surrogacy. The rationales they based their believe on are in three general categories namely; the symbolic harm to society of allowing paid surrogacy, the potential risk in the woman of allowing paid surrogacy, and the potential risk to the potential child of allowing paid surrogacy. He further mentioned that surrogate motherhood has been described by its opponents not only as the buying and selling of children but as reproductive slavery, the renting of the womb, incubatory servitude, the factory method of childbearing, and cutting up women into genitalia. The women who are surrogates are paid breeders, interchangeable parts in the birth machinery, biological entrepreneurs, breeder women, reproductive meat, manufacturing plants, human incubators, prostitutes, incubators for men sperm, and a commodity in the reproductive market place. The husbands are seen as pimps or cuckolds while the children conceived as a result of surrogate agreements have been called chattel or merchandise to be expected in perfect condition. The feminist proponents of surrogacy are upset at the vision of a baby being wrenched from its mother or being slipped out a back window in a flight from the authorities. (Andrews 1094)
The second rationale against surrogacy is that of the potential physical and psychological risks the woman in exposed to. This is because its unnatural for a mother to give up her child, mothers that do so might later regret relinquishing their children. Another strong point of the feminists against surrogacy is that women can’t actually give an informed consent until they have had the experience of giving birth. The third rationale given by the feminist is that of the potential harm to potential children, insisting that mothers are in the best position to decide what is best for the child. It is also claimed that these potential harms can also extend to the surrogate’s other children. (Andrew 1096).
The practice of commercial surrogacy has been defined on four main grounds. It may serve as the only hope for some people to be able to raise a family since there is shortage of children for adoption and meeting the criteria required to qualify as an adoptive parent is quite difficult. This point alone appears to be enough to counter all the points raised by its protagonists, as this point makes surrogacy a highly significant good. Secondly, commercial surrogacy is supported by two of the fundamental human rights which are; the freedom of contract and the right to procreate. Therefore, adequately informed adults should be given the to make whatever contractual arrangement and agreement they wish for the use of their body and the reproduction of children in as much as the children born is not harned in anyway. Third, since the labour of the surrogate mother is said to be a labor of love, her altruistic acts should be permitted and encouraged. Finally, there doesn’t seem to be any difference between commercial surrogacy in its ethical implications from many already accepted practices which separate genetic, gestational and social parenting such as artificial insemination by donor, adoption, wet-nursing, and day care. Constitency demands that society accepts this new practice just as it has accepted others.
The fact that an occasional gestator may regret having to surrender the child to the parents is not a valid reason to ban the practice or to make such agreements unenforceable. People often make agreements that they later regret -- marriage, divorce, relinquishment of children for adoption -- but society continues to permit such practices and enforce such agreements.
The law should recognize as legal parents the couple who really want to have and raise a child because they are as likely to perform well the task of parenting as any other couple whose child was born in the usual way. Banning surrogacy will not end the practice; it will simply force it underground, as was the case with abortion in many states prior to Roe v. Wade. Gestational surrogacy may be beneficial to all parties involved and to society. Some states will almost surely allow surrogacy arrangements. Thus, banning the practice in other states will be largely futile because potential surrogate parents will usually have the means to travel to and make arrangements in another state.
Society not only allows women to bear and give birth to children without compensation, it lauds and honors them for doing so. Why should we deny women the opportunity to earn fair compensation for voluntarily producing children for others? Is cleaning houses and offices, providing child day care, clerking, and waitressing more honorable than bearing and giving birth to children? Do we prefer to keep women economically dependent when they could be earning substantial sums doing something that they want and prefer to do over the other choices available to them? How can it logically be argued that using one's body to clean bathrooms for pay is morally permissible, but using one's body to produce a child for others for pay is not? The benefit of gestational surrogacy to the parents is clear and largely undisputed. The benefit to the Gestator should be just as clear. We should allow gestational surrogacy to become an accepted and honored profession.
Some feminists proponents of surrogracy claims that surrogacy turns participating women, albeit with their consent, into reproductive vessels. According to Andrews (1102), anti-surrogacy has the potential of of turning all women into reproductive vessels, without seeking their consent, by providing government oversight for women’s decision and creating a disparage legal category for gestation. Moreso, if any of the feminist arguments mentioned above is allowed to come into life, the current rationale which opposes surrogacy could undermine a larger feminist agenda. (Andrews 1102)
In the matter of baby "m", a pseudonym for an actual person. Superior court of new jersey, chancery division, family pet, Bergen county. March 31, 1987, Decided April 2000. Print
In the matter of baby m, a pseudonym for an actual person. no. a-39. Supreme court of New Jersey. Argued, 1987, decided 1988. Print
Anderson Elizabeth S. Is women's labor a commodity? Philos Public Aff. 1990 Winter; 19(1):71–92. 1990. Print
Lori B. Andrews, Surrogate Motherhood: The Challenge for Feminists; 16 Law, Med. & Health Care 72 .1988. Print
John Dwight. Ingram, Surrogate Gestator: A New and Honorable Profession, 76 Marq. L. Rev. 675 .1993. Print