Don’t treat children like consumer goods

Sep 21, 2020 by

by Mary Harrington, UnHerd:

This desperately sad short film published by Radio Free Europe looks at the case of Brigid, a girl born via commercial surrogacy in Ukraine. Brigid was born with disabilities, rejected by her US-based commissioning ‘mother’ and subsequently also by the woman who birthed her.

Though paid surrogacy is regarded as shameful in Ukraine, it pays well: women can earn around £14,000 for carrying a baby, a significant sum in a country where average monthly wages are around £320. The feminist Julie Bindel has written extensively about the grim reality of exploited women that lurks beneath the shiny image projected by surrogacy brokers, of loving would-be parents and altruistic gestational mothers.

Stories such as Brigid’s underline a further moral hazard: that introducing commercial considerations into the realm of family bonds results in the methodical objectification of children. As far as her commissioning ‘family’ was concerned, Brigid was only a child as long as she met the customer’s expectations for what their offspring would be like. When she turned out to be faulty, she was rejected.

Brigid isn’t the first such story: in 2014 a British couple rejected their biological child, born via surrogacy, due to her disabilities. The commissioning mother reportedly said of the baby: “She’d be a ****ing dribbling cabbage! Who would want to adopt her?”.

But a disabled child is a human being, not an object to be binned and replaced like a faulty iPhone. And the fact that Brigid’s commissioning ‘parents’ felt able to do so underlines the unbridgeable gulf between the commercial realm and the relational one that normally governs family life.

Read here

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