Surrogate Exploitation

`As the mother of two wonderful boys (mayhem and destruction), I can understand the desire to have a child,  yet this desire to reproduce should not obscure the ability of some potential mothers to exploit others.  Some women have turned to surrogacy to become mothers, and in the process have ignored the system of exchange, and the potential it has to reduce womens bodies to their wombs.  Womens ENews has an article detailing the exorbitant cost of surrogacy. It seeks to draw attention to the fact that with a declining economy, surrogacy as an option is becoming, more and more difficult to utilize as an option. We are meant to feel saddened that one group of women are having difficulty exploiting another group of women, for the purposes of projecting their genes into the future.

According to the article, “After fertility treatment, the expenses of surrogacy break into about four categories. Legal expenses range from $5,000 to $6,000. The carrier’s health insurance ranges from $26,000 to $30,000. The carrier’s fee–for services and living expenses–ranges from $20,000 to $45,000. The fee for the agency (which includes a legally-mandated $1,500 screening fee to check the carrier’s background)–ranges from $3,000 to $25,000.”  Where oh where is a western woman to turn to make sure that her child is genetically related to her? The answer is obvious isn’t it. Let’s just fall back on the poor, and WOC.  Western culture has a history of breeding us when it is convenient, all the while decrying our “rabbit” like fertility when we choose to have our own children. Yep, that’s the problem with the third world, too many women having babies, but it certainly is not problematic for western women to fly over there, and pay women to give birth to children.  Whose fertility matters? Remind me which bodies count?

“Intended parents may cash in their airline frequent flyer benefits to meet carriers in India, Eastern Europe, Mexico, Russia, Thailand or South Africa, but once these air miles run out, they may be unable to afford $2,000 plane tickets so they can continue monitoring pregnancies and legal proceedings.”

Oh dear, due to financial restrictions you may not be able to aptly police the woman that you have chosen to exploit. Heaven forbid that western women are unable to make sure that the leash does not aptly restrict the blood flow. What if mammy forgets her place? What if Mammy makes a decision that is not in the best interest of my genetically superior child?  But with every problem there is a solution. India is becoming a magnate for the surrogate industry precisely because the women stay in clinics or supervised homes, to ensure that their every movement can be appropriately monitored.  We must not forget that westerners are paying between 6-10 thousand, and they deserve their moneys worth. Let’s over look the fact that women are taking this option because it represents the equivalent of years of labor. 

But what about supporting the choices of women?  After all, women are willingly choosing to become surrogate mothers.  We can pretend that this is not a choice constrained by circumstance, but the relevancy of the system of exchange cannot be ignored. This is simply a new form of colonialism wherein womens bodies, instead of land are being used to project western hegemony.  This is an exploitation that is specific only to women, a man cannot be exploited in this way.

Each and everyday in our consumerist, capitalist economy we are part of a system that exploits third world countries.  We have created  informal colonies so that we may consume more than our share of the global produce, and yet we can still wax prophetic about choice, and agency.  Pointing out that women will be able to educate their children, buy homes and invest the money they earn from surrogacy does not negate the fact that  this is still exploitation, and had this predatory system not been in place, India would not be the new breeding ground for infertile western women. How many choices can you buy with a dollar a day?

It is arrogance to prioritize western biological imperatives in this way.  Our DNA is no more necessary to the progression of humanity as a species than the DNA of an impoverished woman of Delhi. This is not a case wherein both sides will ultimately be satisfied, as the surrogate will always be aware that it is her body that was reduced to the level of brood mare to provide for her children.  How many auction blocks do WOC have to stand on? As I have said on many occasions our identification as women only matters when it is used to benefit others.  We are the downtrodden, ‘unwomen’ of the world unless of course, you happen to be in the market for a spare womb.

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