Accepted paper:

Exports by another name? Cross-border infertility treatment and international surrogacy

Authors:

Jennifer Speirs (University of Edinburgh)

Paper short abstract:

In this paper I explore how some free-market exports, in particular anonymously donated gametes and babies born of surrogacy arrangements, are seen as detrimental to the nation-state because they challenge compliance with international rights conventions and benefit private medical entrepreneurs.

Paper long abstract:

The Scottish Enlightenment moral philosopher Adam Smith proposed that self-interest indirectly promotes the good of society and his work has been used to support the benefits of economic liberalism. In this paper I explore how some free-market exports, in particular anonymously donated gametes and babies born of surrogacy arrangements are considered detrimental to the nation-state because they challenge compliance with international rights conventions. The protection of human rights, children's rights, and rights in relation to biomedicine are covered by a number of international declarations, charters and treaties although not all states have signed up to them all. These exports depend on consumer demand (from people with fertility problems who are desperate for children of their own) and on the entrepreneurship of clinic operators and infertility specialists who exploit gaps in or the absence of state regulation in order to supply the necessary goods. These goods are provided especially by young people and poor women in return for money, but there are concerns about whether they do so from genuine free will, and how the arrangements will be explained to the 'exports' when they become enquiring human beings.

panel P27
A world of goods and the wealth of nations: anthropologies of export