I think it is time for me to revisit the topic of surrogacy. I’ve discussed this at length in the past, as a quick look at the tags reveals. But surrogacy is in the news again, this time occasioned by the announcement that Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker are using a surrogate who is now pregnant with twins.
I don’t see much in the coverage that is especially noteworthy yet. But it does seem to me that attention periodically returns to this topic. With such a high profile example, I’m sure articles will appear in time. (There’s one I just noted that suggested their surrogate was paid some astronomical amount of money, like $150K.)
Now I’m not going to link to my earlier posts as I start this. You can read them if you like. But I’m curious to see if I will say the same things now that I said before. I think writing this blog may have changed (developed?) my views on a bunch of topics, and this could be one, for all I know. For those who have been following closely enough so that this seems repetitious, my apologies. (This could be a null set, though.)
Surrogacy is an extremely problematic practice of a lot of people. It’s useful, I think, to start by establishing some principles that inform my opinions. You might agree with this or you might not. If you don’t, at least we’ll all understand where we disagree.
One thing to note at the outset, though. I wouldn’t be surprised to find some fairly fundamental differences in the views of men and women on this topic. Maybe that is a totally unremarkable statement–you probably find fundamental differences in the views of men and women on a bunch of topics.
Still, thinking about surrogacy means thinking about how to treat pregnancy. While not all women become (or could become) pregnant, the vast majority of women, for at least a part of their lives, think it is possible that they might someday become pregnant. On the flip side, while a very small number of men may become pregnant, the overwhelming majority of men do not ever consider this possibility.
Given the extraordinary nature of pregnancy, I think living with the possibility of pregnancy probably shapes our views. Notice that I didn’t say that women and men will reach different conclusions about surrogacy, just that there are likely to be differences in their views leading to differences in their analysis.
All of which is lead up to my first principle: Pregnancy is different. It isn’t like anything else. There isn’t anything else we do that is so profoundly involving for such an extended period of time. That means there’s a limit to how much we can reason by analogy, I think. That turns out to have quite a few ramifications. For example, I will reject the assertion that surrogacy is like any other form of childcare.
Now I’m a feminist and so my next principle is that women have to have autonomy about decisions regarding pregnancy, not only before the pregnancy but also during the pregnancy.
I’m not sure, but this may be all I need to start with. I’ll commence tomorrow and see if there’s back-filling that needs to happen.