Biological colonialism is a terrible problem in which the well off exploit the body parts and functions of the destitute in much the same way colonial powers used to extract natural resources from the conquered.
Now, an important article by a Mayo Graduate School of Medicine, published in the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics points out how badly destitute women are abused in the international surrogacy industry–a huge component of biological colonialism.
The international market of industrialized reproduction necessitates the uterus to be viewed as a mere commodity—something distinct from the whole woman. Within this market-oriented mentality, the commodity of a womb is fungible (i.e. any one of them can be substituted for any other similar commodity, given that the quality and price are the same).
Thus, a gestational surrogate is essentially seen as a glorified incubator. Carriers become commodities. To view human persons as parts or commodities primarily for our use and exploitation is dubious. No human being—or her parts—should be treated as a commodity precisely because we are whole subjects, not fragmented organs…Thus, to view and treat a woman as a mere incubator belies her dignity and worth as an individual person and defies the core tenets of international human rights.
But what about choice?
While a general commitment to reproductive choice in high-resource countries is well established, values such as free choice, personal autonomy, and privacy may not be transferable in an international setting where different cultures, traditions, and pluralistic notions of life exist. The begetting and rearing of children and the relationships of those involved may suffer when reproduction is industrialized and commercialized. In a society with few technical limitations whose mindset is overwhelmed with making, the free choice to create children in order to satisfy a want or deep desire may predominate.
Perhaps equally concerning is the market mentality that enables “value free” decisions that commodify carriers. This objectification similarly shapes our understanding of “having” children as if they were market goods. The international surrogacy enterprise thus denigrates our view of humanity. In the end, we must ask ourselves whether the elation childless couples experience following the birth of a genetically related child is sufficient to offset the health risks, the violation of a surrogate’s autonomy and her potential exploitation, the commodification of her person, and the resultant alteration of societal values.
The answer is no. Whatever you think about commercial surrogacy, please read the whole thing. It is well worth your time.
For the impact of commercial surrogacy domestically, see the CBC’s Breeders (for which I am a paid consultant).
Adopt. Adopt. Adopt.