Achieving Reproductive Justice in the International Surrogacy Market

9 Pages Posted: 18 Aug 2011 Last revised: 20 Dec 2012

See all articles by Seema Mohapatra

Seema Mohapatra

Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Date Written: August 18, 2011


Men and women are increasingly seeking surrogacy arrangements outside of their home country, mainly due to legal restrictions or the high cost of surrogacy in their home countries. Global surrogacy raises numerous issues including the economic status of women involved in surrogacy arrangements, poverty, issues related to what motherhood means and how women from different ethnic, socioeconomic, class, and national backgrounds interact in the global surrogacy market. This essay analyzes whether reproductive justice exists in the current international surrogacy market. Reproductive justice refers to the normative concept that all women, regardless of their ethnic, racial, national, social, or economic backgrounds, should be able to make healthy decisions about their bodies and their families. Rather than using a traditional lens of analyzing assisted reproductive technologies and surrogacy using the tools of liberal feminism (such as focusing on a woman’s individual autonomy), the reproductive justice framework goes beyond the individual woman. The framework acknowledges that each woman is part of a family and community, and aims to support policies that aid entire families and communities in order to support these women. The reproductive justice framework “integrate[s] the concepts of reproductive rights, social justice and human rights.” Reproductive justice proponents aim to “achieve the complete physical, mental, spiritual, political, social, and economic well-being of women and girls, based on the full achievement and protection of women's human rights.” The reproductive justice movement aims to address reproductive concerns faced by women outside of mainstream feminist thought, such as poor women, women of color, and lesbians. Reproductive justice moves away from the language of choice and autonomy because “the ‘right to choose’ means very little when women are powerless.” Additionally, taking cues from sociologist France Winddance Twine, I analyze surrogacy as a form of stratified reproduction. This refers to the concept that certain physical and social reproductive tasks vary based on class, race, ethnic, and global hierarchies.

This essay attempts to follow the reproductive justice movement’s example of linking domestic reproductive justice to the global women's movement. In this essay, I briefly introduce some leader countries in the international surrogacy market. I then explore whether reproductive justice is being achieved in the current marketplace. I introduce the reader to sociology literature on reproductive justice in the surrogacy market and briefly provide such suggestions about how law may be used as a tool to achieve such reproductive justice.

Suggested Citation

Mohapatra, Seema, Achieving Reproductive Justice in the International Surrogacy Market (August 18, 2011). Annals of Health Law, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

Seema Mohapatra (Contact Author)

Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law ( email )

530 West New York Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202
United States

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