The womb industry

Sep 14, 2021 by

by Tom Farr, The Critic:

Women’s bodies should not be for rent.

On 9 September, GBNews presenter Alex Phillips introduced a segment on the ethics of surrogacy by asking, “Is having a child a human right?” The piece also highlighted the complexity of surrogacy laws in the UK; indeed, terms such as “birth mother”, “legal parent” and “intended parent” do little to clarify this murky topic.

As Phillips pointed out, a number of organisations and couples are advocating for an overhaul to surrogacy laws in order to “loosen up the regulations”, with a view to making the surrogacy process more streamlined. Should we be concerned about this, and if so, why?

Some people may consider surrogacy solely to be a relationship between consenting parties, born of a desire to create a family. If all parties agree, then who are we to criticise? But the issue runs deeper: much like libertarian-on-steroids approach to the commercial sex trade, where individual success stories are platformed as a smokescreen to distract from the otherwise crushing global exploitation that occurs, approaching the issue by platforming the desires of the individual over the impact on (surrogate) women as a class is a recipe for disaster.

Before diving into the legal ramifications of regulating and commercialising the child-bearing capabilities of women as a sex class, it is of paramount importance to understand exactly what is being criticised when we talk about “the surrogacy trade” and why. First thing’s first: surrogacy is big bucks. By 2025, estimates place the value of the global surrogacy trade at upwards of $27 billion. This should already set alarm bells ringing.

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