The debate over surrogate mothering is often seen as a debate over the meaning of motherhood and the status of women in general. Both court decisions and the writings of feminist theorists center on questions about the value of mothering, the proper role of women as mothers and citizens, and the putative relations between a woman’s reason and her emotional life. I would like to offer an alternative view, however, one that moves the debate away from questions about women to questions about family relations in general.
Surrogacy involves one of two arrangements. In one a woman agrees to be artificially inseminated with the sperm of a man in order to bear a child for him and his wife. The so-called sponsoring couple, in turn, agree to compensate her for her services. In the other, eggs are harvested from one woman, fertilized in a petri dish by her husband’s sperm, and implanted in the womb of another woman. She brings the resulting fetus to term and is again compensated for her services....
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