Via Kerry Howley, I see that the WSJ and Thomas Frank, who I'm pretty sure wrote some book about how crazy it is to let moral and cultural predispositions take precedence over rational decisions about economic well-being, are arguing that it is fundamentally important that we do not let rational decisions about economic well-being take precedence over moral and cultural predispositions. But of course, the subject is wymyn, and we all know how emotional they can be.
Surrogate motherhood has been the subject of much philosophical and political dispute over the years. To summarize briefly, it is a class-and-gender minefield. When money is exchanged for pregnancy, some believe, surrogacy comes close to organ-selling, or even baby-selling. It threatens to commodify not only babies, but women as well, putting their biological functions up for sale like so many Jimmy Choos. If surrogacy ever becomes a widely practiced market transaction, it will probably make pregnancy into just another dirty task for the working class, with wages driven down and wealthy couples hiring the work out because it's such a hassle to be pregnant.Oh no, baby-selling!
Now. International adoption costs from $20-40,000. Domestic adoptions less, between $15-25,000. Adoption is already transactional. Would it not be more equitable, more just, and more utilitarian to cut out the middle-men and allow people who desire babies to buy them directly from people who do not, especially when those in the latter category are impoverished and socially immobile?
Insofar as Frank has anything other than a prudish, aesthetic, essentialist objection to surrogacy (a practice, by the way, as old as civilization), it seems to be that the rich will employ the poor for the task. Yes. As opposed to . . . quoi? Remarkably, it's possible to regret, even to seek to ameliorate, the extreme division of wealth in society while nonetheless understanding that in any society with a division of labor there will be some stratification of economic privilege, and that those with less money will be employed by those with more. Ironically, since he's supposed to be some kind of social democrat, Frank's argument against surrogacy, egg- and baby-selling is strikingly Reaganesque; it harkens back directly to the hoary welfare-queen anecdotes, ghetto women pumping out more babies just to cash in on the government check. It's false moralizing of the lowest order. Riddle me this: why is it morally acceptable to terminate a pregnancy but not to profit from it?