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What’s special about the labour of labour?

Bronwyn Parry
Fertility ethics
Fertility industry
Ethical Consideration
Unregulated fertility sector
Regulated fertility sector

Is carrying someone else’s child as part of a commercial contract necessarily exploitative? Does the fact that the work of pregnancy is carried out in the gestational carrier’s body result in some form of commodification?

These questions are not easily answered, and so Professor Bronwyn Parry travelled to India over several years to understand the motivations and the living conditions of women like Papiha.

After years of empirical research and visits to numerous fertility clinics across the vast Indian sub-continent, Professor Parry actually found that her views were slowly changing.

Prior to setting out with her anthropological field work, she had been of the opinion that gestational surrogacy cannot ever be ethical, that it was necessarily an exploitative business.

Yet the reality she encountered was more complex: some fertility clinics offer women a opportunity to improve their chances in life, to teach them vital skills like computer literacy and accounting, and this can enable them to become more independent.

For your discussion: Is there something special about the labour or labour? Is it different from other types of work, which, as Bronwyn Parry points out, can be even more physically demanding? If so, what effect does that then have on the act of carrying someone else’s child with the intention of giving it up at birth?

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