Babies, Bodies and Buyers

14 Pages Posted: 11 Jul 2019

Date Written: 2016


While reproductive rights have always been at the center of women’s work in the academy, that conversation has changed in complex ways in recent years—in no small part because of revolutionary new assisted-reproductive and genetic technologies. From oosplasmic transfer to pre-implantation genetic diagnosis to the precise gene-editing capabilities of Crispr-cas9, these technologies can facilitate quiet forms of eugenic natalism. Increasingly, consumerist rather than dignitary notions of choice have been deployed to chase non-medical, cosmetic notions of human perfectibility. I worry that this shift signals an ever-more pervasive styling of bodies—including future bodies—as private property, and as inert clay-for-the-molding.

I am hardly alone in my concern that the ultra-contractarianism of our neo-liberal moment is not such a good thing when it dominates all crannies of human endeavor. Its narrowed understanding of corporeal integrity compromises many of the erstwhile goals of public accommodation for all. In this article are three stories in which the personal is short-circuited as exclusively private rather than politically expressive as well.

Keywords: reproductive rights, bodies

Suggested Citation

Williams, Patricia J., Babies, Bodies and Buyers (2016). Columbia Journal of Gender and Law, Vol. 33, No. 1, 2016; Northeastern University School of Law Research Paper. Available at SSRN:

Patricia J. Williams (Contact Author)

Northeastern University ( email )

220 B RP
Huntington Ave
Boston, MA 02115
United States


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