Care ethics and the global practice of commercial surrogacy

Bioethics 24 (7):333-340 (2010)
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Abstract

This essay will focus on the moral issues relating to surrogacy in the global context, and will critique the liberal arguments that have been offered in support of it. Liberal arguments hold sway concerning reproductive arrangements made between commissioning couples from wealthy nations and the surrogates from socioeconomically weak backgrounds that they hire to do their reproductive labor. My argument in this paper is motivated by a concern for controlling harms by putting the practice of globalized commercial surrogacy into the context of care ethics. As I will argue, the unstable situations into which children of global surrogacy arrangements are born is symbolic of the crisis of care that the practice raises. Using the Baby Manji case as my touch point, I will suggest that liberalism cannot address the harms experienced by Manji and children like her who are created through the global practice of assisted reproductive technology. I will argue that, if commissioning couples consider their proposed surrogacy contracts from a care ethics point of view, they will begin to think relationally about their actions, considering the practice from an ethical lens, not just an economic or contractual one.

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Jennifer Parks
Loyola University, Chicago

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