Is women's labor a commodity?

Philos Public Aff. 1990 Winter;19(1):71-92.


...A commercial surrogate mother is anyone who is paid money to bear a child for other people and terminate her parental rights, so that the others may raise the child as exclusively their own. The growth of commercial surrogacy has raised with new urgency a class of concerns regarding the proper scope of the market. Some critics have objected to commercial surrogacy on the ground that it improperly treats children and women's reproductive capacities as commodities. The prospect of reducing children to consumer durables and women to baby factories surely inspires revulsion. But are there good reasons behind the revulsion? And is this an accurate description of what commercial surrogacy implies? This article offers a theory about what things are properly regarded as commodities which supports the claim that commercial surrogacy constitutes an unconscionable commodification of children and of women's reproductive capacities.

MeSH terms

  • Adoption
  • Altruism
  • Child
  • Coercion*
  • Contracts
  • Dehumanization*
  • Economics*
  • Ethics*
  • Family Relations
  • Fees and Charges*
  • Female
  • Freedom
  • Government Regulation
  • Human Rights
  • Humans
  • Industry*
  • Love*
  • Motivation
  • Ownership
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Personal Autonomy
  • Philosophy
  • Public Policy
  • Reproduction
  • Social Control, Formal
  • Social Dominance
  • Social Values*
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Surrogate Mothers*
  • Women
  • Women's Rights*