Academic journal article Journal of Emerging Trends in Educational Research and Policy Studies

Surrogate Motherhood: A Philosophical Discourse

Academic journal article Journal of Emerging Trends in Educational Research and Policy Studies

Surrogate Motherhood: A Philosophical Discourse

Article excerpt

Abstract

In this paper, we examine surrogate motherhood in the contemporary African culture. Surrogacy involves impregnating one woman to gestate a baby who is to be raised by another woman. This arrangement raises many ethical issues in the African society especially Yorúbá society. In Yorúbá culture, "motherhood", "fatherhood" and the family carry different connotations from that of the Western culture. We also argued that reproduction through surrogate mothering is complicated by the possibility of a woman gestating a fetus genetically unrelated to her; a practice that deviates from African cultural norms. It draws on the Yorúbá culture which recognizes only one natural mother - the genetic mother and one natural family - the nuclear family. We conclude by emphasizing the value of motherhood, fatherhood, and the family within the Yorúbá culture and that the ethical issues that are involved in surrogacy as an artificial reproductive technique include the undermining of sexual activities that are limited to a man and his wife.

Keywords: surrogacy, motherhood, reproduction, technology, genetics.

INTRODUCTION

Scientific and technological innovations have produced changes in our traditional ways of perceiving the world around us. This is evident in the technology of surrogate motherhood. Surrogacy involves impregnating one woman to gestate a baby who is to be raised by another woman. In Western culture, the practice of surrogacy is very common. However, in African culture, does surrogacy raise ethical issues? This question is addressed in this paper. We examine the ethical issues of assisted reproduction, from the point of view of an African (Yombá) culture. We also examine the implications of these issues on how the family, motherhood and fatherhood are constructed and defined in African (Yombá) culture. We show that reproduction through surrogate mothering is a deviation from African cultural norms of reproduction and for many Africans, this seems unethical. We conclude by emphasizing the values of motherhood, and fatherhood within the Yorúbá culture and that this arrangement raises many ethical issues. Central to this ethical issue is the claim that surrogacy divides the notion of motherhood into two components (genetics and gestational) and as a result devalues the traditional conception of motherhood, parenthood and family.

SURROGATE MOTHERHOOD

Surrogate renders problematic what African society has come to believe about personal identity, intimate relationship, the beginning of life and particularly the traditional conception of a mother. The question may be asked, what are the ultimate consequences for a culture that views its children as property, as thing that people can exchange, sell, or have right to?

It may be argued that a woman can gestate a fetus genetically unrelated to her, a practice that deviates from African cultural norms of reproduction and for many African seems unethical. It draws on the Yorúbá culture which recognizes only one natural mother, the genetic mother.

Since surrogate mothering deviates from African cultural norms of reproduction and the family system, there is need to emphasize the value placed on these cultural norms within the Yombá culture. Infertility is a major problem for many African women who have been carefully trained to experience motherhood and their purpose in life is achieved through motherhood that is, ability to bear children, who will live after they might have died. For the African woman, infertility is seen as disability, an impairment which is defined as the expression of a physiological, an atomic or mental loss. Example of impairment which results in infertility include, abnormal growth in the uterus, scarred fallopian tubes, congenital malformation of uterus, testicular damage done by lumps and so on.

There are three forms of surrogacy. The first occurs when through sexual intercourse, the husband of an infertile woman impregnates another woman for the purpose of bearing a child for the couple. …

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