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PHI2396 (339)


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Caroline Sullivan

Elizabeth Anderson, “is women’s Labour a Commodity?”  Types of surrogacy: genetic and gestational (not your genes, just lending womb); commercial (get paid) and altruistic (do it as a favor)  Surrogacy in Canada is legal, but only altruistic, get paid as gift, pay for travel and vitamins etc.  Commercial surrogacy: morally inappropriate –it applies economic norms to reproduction Problem?  Reproduction involves people and an appropriate treatment of people would involve such values as “love” “honor” “respect” etc. (remember Kant’s categorical imperative!)  Economic norms are manipulative  Reproduction involves parental rights and responsibilities which are anything but manipulative  Commercialization reproductive labour turns it, as well as the mother and the child into commodities – Objects for sale and buying  It also values reproduction inappropriately which leads to exploitation and inferior understanding of human flourishing – everything turns out for sale Defence of commercial surrogacy – on 4 grounds: 1) Shortage of children for adoption: legal cumbersomeness of the adoption process; 2) Right to produce and freedom of contract 3) The labour of the surrogate mother is a labour of love and her acts are altruistic; 4) Surrogacy no different than the practices of daycare, insemination by donor, adoption and wet nursing  Anderson refutes all of them as invalid grounds  The biggest problem for Anderson with commercial surrogacy : children are treated as commodities  Parents’ rights over their children are trusts which must always be exercised for the sake of the child (parent and child have shared interest)  Commercial surrogacy understands parental rights not as trusts but as property rights (to own and dispose of things owned)  A result of the commercial transaction of surrogacy – all the parties exhibit attitudes that undermine the norms of parental love – becomes like any business transaction A few objections: 1. What if we say that no matter how the child has come to a home, if the child is desired and loved, then the fact that the child is purchased doesn’t matter (e.g adoption?)  Anderson: yes, it doesn’t matter if the child is purchased but the fact that the child is sold does matter – it is the transaction of sale that undermines the parental love and trust  The unsold children of the surrogate mother are also affected by surrogacy (find out the answer – in the text) – if you don’t want the child anymore, you can just “pull” out, especially if you have a good lawyer 2. Surrogacy doesn’t sell children because the father already owns half of the genetic material  Anderson: treating the child as a commodity is reflected in the way we treat the rights of the
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