That’s the question asked over at the International Women’s Day website (IWD). For them it’s: connecting girls, inspiring futures . For the United Nations, the focus this year is on rural women; to end hunger and poverty. Even corporations such as Accenture and IBM have weighed in with their respective visions: 50:50 in the boardroom by 2020 and success in the globally integrated enterprise.
So what’s my theme? Putting our bodies and babies back together. As it relates to assisted reproductive technologies (ART), the United States is often referred to as the Wild West of fertility medicine, with California being called the reproductive tourist capital of the world. It is, after all, where Elton John and David Furnish came to have their son born via one woman’s egg and another woman’s womb two Christmases ago. Theresa Erickson, a California-based surrogacy lawyer was just sentenced to prison for her role in a three-ring baby-selling scam. And can you say Octomom? A recent case in Florida pits two lesbians in their fight for their child created through ART. One of the women gave her the egg, the other gave her womb. They have since split, with the birth mother fleeing to Australia with the child. Can even Solomon’s wisdom help decide who’s child this is? Will the courts be forced to split the baby so that half goes to the woman who contributed her genetic DNA and half goes to the woman who offered her hospitable womb? Woman-to-woman, we need to have a serious public conversation about our reproductive bodies and the babies we create. The dirty little secrets of the $6.5 billion dollar a year ART industry in the U.S. need to be exposed for what they are: exploitative to poor women, risky to the health of mother and child, commodification of our bodies and lacking in the dignity and the rights of the children created through financial transactions all under the guise of helping make dreams come true. For 2012, let’s begin to reconstruct our deconstructed bodies, and stop selling and sharing our bodies and our babies.
— Jennifer Lahl is president of The Center for Bioethics and Culture and writer, director, and producer of the award-winning Eggsploitation and Anonymous Father’s Day.