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Thomas Library

Honors Thesis Archive

Author Brittany Cravens
Title Surrogacy Law?: The Unparalleled Social Utility of Surrogacy and The Need for Federal Legislation
Department Political Science
Advisor Heather Wright
Year 2010
Honors University Honors
Full Text View Thesis (325 KB)
Abstract Surrogate motherhood arrangements provide a service unparalleled by other assisted reproductive technologies or adoption. It has been said that, "Conception lasts a few moments, gestation a few months and delivery a few hours, whereas parenting is for life" (Bromham 1995, 511). Seen in this light, surrogacy provides a benefit to childless men and women unparalleled by any other means of obtaining children because it offers those hopeful parents the opportunity to have a genetically related child, if they so choose, and to parent it from birth. Despite offering an unmatched social utility to citizens, surrogacy faces tough criticism. The scholarly community, religious leaders, and the media all have serious objections to surrogacy arrangements. Surrogacy has been charged with commodifying women and children; exploiting, objectifying, and comprising the autonomy of women; and reducing the frequency of adoption. Here, surrogacy is defended in light of these criticisms. It will be shown that the many of these criticisms are oversold and that they do not characterize the majority of surrogate motherhood arrangements. Surrogacy provides a cure for childlessness that in vitro fertilization, artificial insemination, and adoption do not because it allows for infertile women and homosexual couples to have genetic children. Surrogacy really allows for the expansion of non-traditional families and is closely related to the very fundamental personal right to procreation. The void of federal legislation and disparate treatment of surrogacy by state legislatures, however, greatly threatens the practice. Surrogacy is already prohibited and even criminalized in some areas of the United States. The contention here is that surrogacy provides a service that is best regulated and protected by federal legislation. Because other bodies of law have failed to handle surrogacy adequately, and the courts are hesitant to address surrogacy in any form, federal legislation is not only the best alternative, but one of the only. Federal legislation could not only protect surrogacy from pointed criticisms from scholars, the media, and the public, but it could offer parties to surrogacy contracts better clarification of their rights and responsibilities under the contract. In sum, surrogacy, while imperfect, provides a social utility unmatched by any other and one that should be available to citizens of the United States, as it is closed related to the fundamental right to procreation; it should be both protected and regulated by federal legislation.

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