The Womb : A Marxist Analysis Of Surrogate Motherhood
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Commodification of the Womb: A Marxist Analysis of Surrogate Motherhood
In the context of classical Marxism, the moral permissibility of surrogate motherhood is forcefully negated. Marxism condemns the practice of surrogacy as an exemplification of commodity fetishism in capitalist society, viewing surrogacy arrangements as a commercialization of the female womb. The term, “commodification of the womb,” thus arises to describe the process by which services carried out by the female womb are sold and purchased on the market. Through such transactions, the surrogate’s body and the infant it produces are transformed from subjects to objects that have both exchange value and use value in their commodified state.
The Marxist criminalization of commercial surrogacy originates from the class divisions produced when the reproductive labors of poor women are exploited by wealthy couples. Because the parties within a surrogacy contract often are not autonomous equals and hold distinct relationships to the means of production, female surrogates unintentionally reinforce class divisions through their participation in womb commodification. However, there are also cases in which surrogates are not drawn from lower economic strata, so the possibility of their labor being “forced” by economic circumstances is attenuated. These include instances of altruistic surrogacy, in which the surrogate is motivated by a desire apart from monetary need, such as a wish to bestow a gift upon the