Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Another Woman's Womb

For women who are unable to carry a child gestational carriers are a blessing. As you know, when a couple uses a gestational carrier the embryo is theirs; the womb belongs to someone else.

A gestational carrier is not like an egg donor or what used to be called a surrogate. She does not contribute any DNA to the child.

It is not a new practice. It has been used successfully for many years now.

It is new, to me at least, when a woman who is capable of carrying a child chooses not to do so because pregnancy would interfere with her career.

Yesterday, a woman wrote to Emily Yoffe, aka Dear Prudence, to ask how she should behave at a baby shower for a woman whose child was being carried by what, in this case, is being called a surrogate carrier.

She writes:

My sister-in-law is dedicated to her career and she is using a surrogate to have a baby. They are doing this because they want a biological child but my sister-in-law does not want to take time off work to have a normal childbirth. Last week I was invited to a baby shower via Evite where you can see the other guests. The surrogate will be attending this shower with my sister-in-law and assorted guests. I guess I am old fashioned, because this all seems very awkward to me. I completely respect and understand using a surrogate if there are fertility problems, but that is not the case here. I'm also not sure what to say or how to act to either the surrogate or my sister-in-law at the shower. I plan to attend this shower because my sister-in-law has always been supportive of me and my children, but I am not sure what to say or how to act in this unorthodox situation.

Yoffe responds sensibly that the woman should act graciously, as she would at any other baby shower.

Then she adds:

I will say that if not wanting to take time away from the office is truly the sole reason your sister-in-law hired someone to bear her child, I have doubts about her interest in actual motherhood. However that's not the issue here. The issue is behaving politely at a shower. Surely you don't need advice on doing that.

Yoffe is especially right to raise the more important issue here: not just that this woman is unlikely to allow motherhood to interfere with her ambition, but that other women will surely find her decision to be vaguely disquieting.

Yoffe also raises the possibility that the woman might have another reason for using a gestational carrier.  For all we know she might be phobic about childbirth or might be afraid of what pregnancy will do to her girlish figure.

Since we all accept the use of gestational carriers when there is no other way to bear a child, we are apparently also supposed to nod our acceptance when a woman states openly that she wishes to have a child like a man does. Beyond contributing some genetic material, this woman is saying that she will deny herself the joy and the pain of gestation in order to do it as the guys do it. She has voluntarily unsexed herself.

In some ways this is simply the logical outcome of the feminist war against women.

When a woman who cannot carry to term chooses a gestational carrier she is showing a very strong motivation to be a mother. Yet, when a woman chooses a gestational carrier because she believes that pregnancy will interfere with her career, she is demonstrating the opposite attitude toward motherhood: it is an inconvenience she would rather avoid.

For her motherhood merely concerns transmitting genes; nothing more or less.

Also, her actions tell us that she belongs in the 1%. It takes a lot of disposable income to hire a gestational carrier. Hiring nannies and sitters to bring up your child, as she seems destined to do, is also a very expensive undertaking.

A woman who cannot have a child any other way would be understandably willing to incur the expense. She and her husband would see it as a worthwhile sacrifice.

Yet, when a woman who can have a child naturally calculates that the experience will put her at a competitive disadvantage on the job, then she has reduced childbearing to a pure calculation.

We do not yet know if it is a trend. We do not know whether we are seeing the emergence of a new class of unsexed careerist women who can rent other women’s wombs in order to spare themselves the inconvenience of pregnancy. For them, exactly what does it mean to be a woman?


n.n said...

The hidden war on women's dignity.

Well, I suppose if it is consensual, then that is the only litmus test worthy of consideration.

Personally, I think it reduces the surrogate womb... I mean woman, to the sum of her parts. The precedent being set is all wrong. The behavior being normalized is all wrong.

Pete the Streak said...

What heads would explode if the carrier went and got an abortion, without telling anyone? Ya know - her body, her choice.

That would sure screw with the abortion rights narrative, eh?

n.n said...

rent other women’s wombs in order to spare themselves the inconvenience of pregnancy

To what end? There is certainly the genetic blueprint which will play a principal role in describing the physical attributes of the new life; but, there is also the unique environment in the mother's womb which influences development of the human life. Why not just dispense with a surrogate female and go with the Petri dish followed with an incubator or, if that is too far removed from natural, adopt an unwanted or abandoned child?

None of this takes into account that we are incapable of distinguishing between origin and expression. We may very well come into existence through a unique association with our mother and father.

Anyway, the value gained from compromising the natural order will be the topic of philosophical debate for the foreseeable future. Every argument is derivative from articles of faith.

Dennis said...

Remember the old retort that, "We know what you are we are just haggling over the price?" Little did anyone know that feminism was going to add credibility to it. How far do women have to be degraded and made into a commodity before they recognize what feminism is doing to them? Feminism was NEVER about improving the lives of women. It was always about gaining power for a few upper class women.
As it turned out those same women have always backed Leftist misogynists over any woman outside the upper class coterie.
Beware that when one becomes a commodity there is a strange rule that many on the Left want to make it an action that they deserve and guess whose expense it is going to be at.
I have a number of daughters and granddaughters I do not want turner into commodities for the rich and infamous.

amanda said...

And how will the child feel, when it's not the same voice comforting him after he is born. When he is pressed against a chest and hears a stranger's heartbeat? When every person smells "not like his mother"? Sometimes adoption is necessary but a child suffers when he is pulled away from the arms attached to the womb that carried him. Selfishness to the point of treating human life as a commodity of pleasure is the downfall of our society.