For decades, the field of bioethics has shaped the way we think about ethical problems in science, technology, and medicine. But its traditional emphasis on individual interests such as doctor-patient relationships, informed consent, and personal autonomy is minimally helpful in confronting the social and political challenges posed by new human biotechnologies such as assisted reproduction, human genetic modification, and DNA forensics. Beyond Bioethics addresses these provocative issues from an emerging standpoint that is attentive to race, gender, class, disability, privacy, and notions of democracy—a “new biopolitics.”
This authoritative volume provides an overview for those grappling with the profound dilemmas posed by these developments. It brings together the work of cutting-edge thinkers from diverse fields of study and public engagement, all of them committed to this new perspective grounded in social justice and public interest values.
In the mid-1990s, the international community pronounced prenatal sex selection via abortion an “act of violence against women” and “unethical.” At the same time, new developments in reproductive technology in the United States led to a method of sex selection before conception; its US inventor marketed the practice as “family balancing” and defended it with the rhetoric of freedom of choice. In Gender before Birth, Rajani Bhatia takes on the double standard of how similar practices in the West and non-West are divergently named and framed.
Bhatia’s extensive fieldwork includes interviews with clinicians, scientists, biomedical service providers, and feminist activists, and her resulting analysis extends both feminist theory on reproduction and feminist science and technology studies. She argues that we are at the beginning of a changing transnational terrain that presents new challenges to theorized inequality in reproduction, demonstrating how the technosciences often get embroiled in colonial gender and racial politics.
Featuring contributions from over thirty activists and scholars from a range of countries and disciplines, this collection offers the first genuinely international study of transnational surrogacy. Its innovative bottom-up approach, rooted in feminist perspectives, gives due prominence to the voices of those most affected by the global surrogacy chain, namely the surrogate mothers, donors, prospective parents and the children themselves. Through case studies ranging from Israel to Mexico, the book outlines the forces that are driving the growth of transnational surrogacy, as well as its implications for feminism, human rights, motherhood and masculinity.
Our Bodies Ourselves is a contributor to the anthology, along with an impressive line up of experts in the field. (Read the table of contents.)
In a chapter titled “Frequently Unasked Questions: Understanding and Responding to Gaps in Public Knowledge of International Surrogacy Practices Worldwide,” Our Bodies Ourselves shares findings from an analysis of publicly-accessible information on international commercial surrogacy. This includes a random survey of news media articles and the websites of select international agents. The chapter also introduces readers to this information clearinghouse on the practice.
The Our Bodies Ourselves blog recently posted an article, authored by staff member Ayesha Chatterjee, on the contribution made by “Babies for Sale?” to literature on international commercial surrogacy.
For a special 40 percent discount, buy the book on the Zed website using the code “BABIESZED.” This offer is time limited and will end May 31, 2017.
From adoption and assisted reproduction, to gay and straight parents, coupled and single, and multi-parent families, the stories in Modern Families explain how individuals make unconventional families by accessing a broad range of technological, medical and legal choices that expand our definitions of parenting and kinship. Joshua Gamson introduces us to a child with two mothers, made with one mother’s egg and the sperm of a man none of them has ever met; another born in Ethiopia, delivered by his natural grandmother to an orphanage after both his parents died in close succession, and then to the arms of his mother, who is raising him solo.
These tales are deeply personal and political. The process of forming these families involved jumping tremendous hurdles—social conventions, legal and medical institutions—with heightened intention and inventiveness, within and across multiple inequities and privileges. Yet each of these families, however they came to be, shares the same universal joys that all families share.
From the book’s foreword by Melissa Harris-Perry, Maya Angelou Presidential Chair and Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Wake Forest University and, formerly, host of MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry:
These family making journeys raise hard questions, but offer no formulaic answers. These are stories of choices made consciously and sometimes uncomfortably to create and combine lives amidst the messy human realities of desire, commerce, science, faith, community and family. This collection is not a roadmap; it is a companion for all those who choose to navigate the world of modern kinship.
How safe is aggressive Ivf, invasive Icsi, exploitative ovarian hyper-stimulation and commercial surrogacy? Politics of the Womb proves that there can be broken babies and breaking mothers; it rips away the romanticism around uterus transplants, warns of genetic theft and designer babies , and points to the human element being sacrificed, as artificial reproduction uses, reuses and recycles the woman. Pinki Virani combines investigation with analysis to question those who lead the worldwide onslaught on the woman s womb in the name of babies, and squarely confronts what has become the business of baby-making by a chain of suppliers that manufactures on demand.
The book is infused with dollops of feminism, some rudimentary anatomy, physiology and a lot of search results for IVF research posing as factual analysis of the baby-making industry, when the conclusions the book arrives at appear to have been decided way before the first line was typed.
Grounded in the reality of the violence and abuse inherent in prostitution—and reeling from the death of a friend to prostitution in Spain—Kajsa Ekis Ekman exposes the many lies in the ‘sex work’ scenario. Trade unions aren’t trade unions. Groups for prostituted women are simultaneously groups for brothel owners. And prostitution is always presented from a woman’s point of view. The men who buy sex are left out.
Drawing on Marxist and feminist analyses, Ekis Ekman argues that the Self must be split from the body to make it possible to sell your body without selling yourself. The body becomes sex. Sex becomes a service. The story of the sex worker says: the Split Self is not only possible, it is the ideal.
Turning to the practice of surrogate motherhood, Kajsa Ekis Ekman identifies the same components: that the woman is neither connected to her own body nor to the child she grows in her body and gives birth to. Surrogacy becomes an extended form of prostitution. In this capitalist creation story, the parent is the one who pays. The product sold is not sex but a baby. Ekis Ekman asks: why should this not be called child trafficking?
This brilliant exposé is written with a razor-sharp intellect and disarming wit and will make us look at prostitution and surrogacy and the parallels between them in a new way.