Surrogate Motherhood and the Politics of Reproduction

Surrogate Motherhood and the Politics of Reproduction

Surrogate Motherhood and the Politics of Reproduction

Surrogate Motherhood and the Politics of Reproduction


Susan Markens takes on one of the hottest issues on the fertility front--surrogate motherhood--in a book that illuminates the culture wars that have erupted over new reproductive technologies in the United States. In an innovative analysis of legislative responses to surrogacy in the bellwether states of New York and California, Markens explores how discourses about gender, family, race, genetics, rights, and choice have shaped policies aimed at this issue. She examines the views of key players, including legislators, women's organizations, religious groups, the media, and others. In a study that finds surprising ideological agreement among those with opposing views of surrogate motherhood, Markens challenges common assumptions about our responses to reproductive technologies and at the same time offers a fascinating picture of how reproductive politics shape social policy.


John and Luanne were married in May 1989. On March
30, 1995, John filed a petition for dissolution of marriage.
He alleged that the couple separated in September 1994,
and there were no minor children.

Luanne filed her response April 20, 1995. Instead of
agreeing with John that there were no minor children, she
asserted that the “[p]arties were expecting a child by way
of surrogate contract” and that the doctor indicated the
birth would be about May 5. Luanne attached a copy of
the surrogacy contract to her response.

The surrogacy contract was signed by John, Luanne,
a woman named Pamela, and Pamela’s husband, Randy.
Under the terms of the contract, Pamela was to be “im
planted with the embryo(s) created with donated genetic
material, unrelated to any of the parties. The child [was]
to be taken into the home of the Intended Father and
Intended Mother and raised by them as their child, with
out interference by the Surrogate [Pamela] or her husband,
and without retention or assertion by the Surrogate and
her husband of any parental rights.”

Jaycee B. v. The Superior Court of Orange County (1996)

The case of Jaycee B. v. The Superior Court of Orange County was heard by the Fourth District California Court of Appeal in 1996. Unlike the dozen or so other court battles involving surrogacy that had taken place up to that point, this was not a dispute over child custody. Instead, Luanne B. was requesting child support from her ex-husband for a child conceived via a surrogate parenting arrangement. None of the four adults involved was genetically related to the baby, Jaycee. John and Luanne’s marriage had dissolved prior to Jaycee’s birth. John contended that he did not owe any child support because he did not meet the criteria typically used to establish paternity: (1) his wife had not given birth to the child; (2) he was not genetically related to the child; and (3) he had never formally adopted the child. . .

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