commercial surrogacy and the ethical relevance of the other
In recent decades surrogacy has become a global business that calls into question traditional concepts of family and the idea of intimacy between two people. A woman offers her body—and in some cases also her ova—to a couple with an unfulfilled wish for a child. An analysis of relationships and the way in which relationships of care can be promoted in times of globalisation and the commercialisation of private spheres of life is central to an ethics of care. Starting with this assumption about the ethics of care, two criticisms of surrogacy are indicated: (1) the potential emotional, physical and financial exploitation of the surrogate as a result of the commercialisation of reproductive labour and (2) the disintegration of private and intimate relationships by separating conception, delivery and child education. This chapter focuses on aspect (2) by explaining the importance of relationships for our moral self-understanding. The phenomenologist Emmanuel Levinas is of special importance to this discussion, since his philosophy emphasises relationships and the idea of responsibility within relationships, and discusses the extent to which relationships serve as the basis for justice. Employing the insights of Levinas, I will show that the practice of surrogacy is first and foremost a caring relationship between the parents-to-be and the surrogate. As a result the practice of surrogacy must not be reduced to economic terms or international regulation. Instead it is crucial to highlight the importance of caring relationships (and their intimacy) for an ethical evaluation of surrogacy.
Krause, F. (2018)., Caring relationships: commercial surrogacy and the ethical relevance of the other, in F. Krause & J. Boldt (eds.), Care in healthcare, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 87-107.
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