Does surrogacy turn women into reproductive vessels? Does it liberate women to use their body as they choose, or are women becoming pawns in a scientific experiment? In the essay, Surrogate Motherhood: The Challenge for Feminists, the author, Lori B. Andrews, looks at the conflicting issues of female empowerment and females as slaves to the male dominated contemporary society. Among feminists there is no consensus as to if surrogacy is empowering or demeaning to women. The author argues, albeit not consistently, that opposing surrogacy is counter to many feminist platforms and by removing the right from the woman to bear a child and give it up, greater feminist stances will be undermined. This is the only logical conclusion. Individuals may oppose surrogacy on ethical, health or religious grounds, but no one should hide behind the guise of feminism. Feminism, at its very core, when stripped of the fringe factions and radicalism, is a movement in support of individualism and the right of one person, male or female, to do whatever he or she pleases with his or her body.
There are multiple forms of surrogacy. First, an anonymous or known donor can artificially inseminate a surrogate. Secondly, a surrogate can produce a child through natural conception and then give up the child, with a contract agreed upon before birth, to an adoptive couple. Andrews shows the differing points of view. The author outlines them as follows: the right to be a surrogate mother should not be denied to women because women should be permitted to do whatever they please with their bodies. Conversely, there seems to be a shared belief that women are being turned into breeding machines.' As technologies have advanced, women are being given more and more opportunities with reference to their reproductive options.
[...] Often (whether it is a personal choice or that their rights are not clearly articulated to them,) women are without the support system of a new family, as she has given away her child. This should be a greater cause for concern for feminist activists. All women who have given birth are due the same treatment to ensure their bodies fully recover from the grueling process of childbirth and that their emotional state is effectively handled. It is difficult to argue against surrogacy, as a woman's right to choose and for abortion rights, as a woman's right to choose. [...]
[...] Of course, in situations where women are taken advantage of, forced into surrogacy, or coerced into bearing a child with promise of monetary compensation there is a natural cause for concern. In all other cases the power lies with the woman. Further, most surrogacy agreements only pay the birth mother if a child is delivered and can be adopted by the new family, that is, she does not get paid if she miscarries, or if the baby dies during childbirth. [...]
[...] The baby, as the author rightfully highlights is being transferred for money to a stranger who can then treat the child like a commodity, doing anything he or she wants to the child.” Therefore, a person is not being sold the parenting rights are being sold. Over this issue, feminists appear to be in agreement. The child is not purchased like a good after birth, there is a clear agreement over the production and eventual transfer of the child from birth mother to parents. [...]
[...] We do not need to understand motherhood as the only job for a woman. Assuming that women should be protected, that is that they should be told that surrogacy is damaging to their emotional well being or that giving up a child makes them something less than whole, is more damaging to women, in the collective, than permitting women to bear and give up a child. The root of the problem, the reason that women and men who define themselves as feminists cannot agree on a stance to take regarding surrogacy, is that not all feminists hold collective views on all issues. [...]
[...] At a scientific level, technology has advanced so that women can be permitted full care. She can be assured that her own health will be protected and she can demand the terms over which her body is used, how many times she can house a fetus and what care she can expect to ensure a safe and easy pregnancy. Further, surrogacy permits the woman to be anonymous or known. Surrogacy should be a clear issue, one which feminists should unequivocally support. [...]
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