Reproduction and Law – The Limits of Patient Agency

8 October 2019, 12:00 - 14:00

Seminar Room S1, 1st Floor, Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road, Cambridge, CB3 9DT. NB Different room today

Elizabeth Chloe Romanis (Centre for Social Ethics and Policy, School of Law, University of Manchester)
'Artificial Wombs and Choosing an Alternative to Gestation'

Dr Christina Weis (Centre for Reproduction Research, School of Applied Social Sciences, De Montfort University)
'Fetus, surrogate or intending parent – who is a patient in commercial surrogacy arrangements?'
 

Abstract

As early as 1970, Shulamith Firestone famously claimed that artificial reproduction can liberate women from ‘barbaric’ pregnancy. Nearly fifty years later, this idea is still pertinent as it raises several fundamental questions: How far individual can and should go with their reproductive choices, and what are the potential legal hurdles of these? This roundtable will address the limits of patient agency from the legal and sociological sides by looking at the examples of artificial wombs and surrogacy.

 

Elizabeth Chloe Romanis
'Artificial Wombs and Choosing an Alternative to Gestation'

It is frequently claimed that artificial wombs have the capacity to alleviate the burdens placed exclusively on the female body in reproduction. In this paper I explain how artificial wombs might meaningfully shift perceptions of acceptable risk in gestation, and lead to a demand for access to an alternative to later term pregnancy. Further, I highlight some of potential legal hurdles in England and Wales that might limit pregnant people's ability to choose an alternative to their gestation if artificial wombs become reality.

 

Dr Christina Weis
'Fetus, surrogate or intending parent – who is a patient in commercial surrogacy arrangements?'

Commercial surrogacy is the arrangement whereby a woman, the ‘surrogate mother’, agrees to gestate a child for another person/s, the intending parent/s, to raise in exchange for an agreed financial compensation.
The contractual nature of surrogacy arrangements turn ‘surrogate mothers’ into reproductive service providers, and raises a set of questions: who is a patient in surrogacy arrangements? What are the limits of the surrogate’s bodily autonomy and her agency in making decisions around the pregnancy? What are the limits of the intending parents control and agency in making decisions around the pregnancy they are commissioning?

These questions gain in importance in medical emergency and interpersonal conflict situations between the surrogates and the intending parents. Based on a total of 15 months of ethnographic research on commercial surrogacy arrangements in St Petersburg, Russia, I grapple with the question who a patient is, and what limits in agency the different actors in surrogacy arrangement encounter and enact on each other. Furthermore, I ask who may or should put limits in agency, and limits of what quality and degree. 
 

 

 

Open to all. No registration required.
An event organised by Health, Medicine and Agency Research Network
Administrative assistance: networks@crassh.cam.ac.uk

CRASSH is not responsible for the content of external websites and readings. All speakers' views are their own.

Christina Weis (De Montfort University), Elizabeth Chloe Romanis (Manchester)