© 2011, Elizabeth Burstein


The legal enforceability of surrogate motherhood is largely contested in bioethics. In this paper, I argue against what Debra Satz terms the “asymmetry thesis,” the idea that there should be an asymmetry (basically, a difference) between how we treat reproductive labor and other forms of labor. Satz’s main support for the asymmetry thesis is that if contract pregnancies are legally enforced, they reinforce a long history of the gender inequality that is pervasive in our culture. I contend that this is not well-supported, and identify three salient empirical questions that the ethicist must ask the sociologist before defending the asymmetry thesis: questions on the population’s thoughts about the sale of reproductive labor, on how many surrogates regret their decisions, and on the impact of contract pregnancy on the mother-child relationship.

Included in

Philosophy Commons