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Surrogate Motherhood and the Politics of Reproduction

Surrogate Motherhood and the Politics of Reproduction

Susan Markens
Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: 1
Pages: 277
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  • Book Info
    Surrogate Motherhood and the Politics of Reproduction
    Book Description:

    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.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94097-0
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. INTRODUCTION: Unfamiliar Families?
    (pp. 1-19)

    The case ofJaycee B. v. The Superior Court of Orange Countywas heard by the Fourth District California Court of Appeal in 1996.¹ 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.² 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...

  6. Chapter 1 THE NEW PROBLEM OF SURROGATE MOTHERHOOD: Legislative Responses
    (pp. 20-49)

    Surrogate motherhood can be viewed as a classic social problem in that its life history can be measured by the rise and fall of attention given to it. Media coverage is the first clear indicator of surrogacy’s arrival as a social problem in the mid- to late 1980s. In the early 1980s, newspaper stories about surrogate parenting appeared only intermittently. The combined coverage provided by theNew York Times, Los Angeles Times,andWashington Posttotaled 15 articles in 1980, 19 in 1981, 8 in 1982, and 25 in 1983. News coverage dipped for the next two years until halfway...

  7. Chapter 2 “CHOICE” AND THE “BEST INTERESTS OF CHILDREN”: Claiming the Problem of Surrogate Motherhood
    (pp. 50-76)

    Reproductive politics and debates about families and children at the end of the twentieth century shaped how social actors, from politicians and political activists to feminists and infertile women, chose to frame the problem of surrogacy. Legislative debates over surrogate motherhood prominently featured the rhetoric of reproductive choice, and all parties claimed the problem as a women’s (rights) issue. Supporters of surrogate motherhoodandits opponents cast their arguments in terms of a “woman’s right to choose.” “[T]he right of procreative choice encompasses all forms of procreation,” surrogacy supporter Michael Balboni argued in 1987, in his capacity as counsel to...

  8. Chapter 3 “MORAL CONUNDRUMS AND MENACING AMBIGUITIES”: Framing the Problem of Surrogate Motherhood
    (pp. 77-101)

    In the late 1980s and early 1990s, when public debate about surrogacy peaked, the concept of “family values” was prominent in political discourse. It is not surprising, then, that the rhetoric surrounding surrogate motherhood and its construction as a social problem was tied to concerns over and debates about the future of the family (its form, its members’ obligations, and even its existence) and to the state’s role in protecting families. For some surrogacy opponents, such as the hierarchy of the American Roman Catholic Church and the orthodox Jewish organization Agudath Israel of America, the practice represented one more threat...

  9. Chapter 4 COMPETING FRAMES OF SURROGACY: Comparing Newspapers’ Coverage of “Horror Stories”
    (pp. 102-138)

    Over sixty years ago, sociologist Robert Park argued that the news constitutes an important source of our knowledge about the world.¹ More recent studies note both the media’s influence in bringing public and political attention to a particular social problem and its “agenda-setting role.”² Print and broadcast media tell us not so much how to think as what to think about. For instance, in their pioneering work on the power of the media, Maxwell McCombs and Donald Shaw found a positive relationship between media coverage of issues and salience of topics to voters.³ Others have identified similarly significant influences on...

  10. Chapter 5 UNITY, DIVISIONS, AND STRANGE BEDFELLOWS: Divergent Legislative Responses to Surrogate Motherhood
    (pp. 139-170)

    New York and California are often considered bellwether states since they frequently take the lead in formulating policies and laws in response to changing social needs.¹ Previous chapters have shown that with respect to surrogate parenting, the two states’ approaches diverged widely by 1992. One possible explanation is that the California and New York State legislatures were influenced by their respective preexisting political cultures and legislative environments. This chapter’s brief comparison of the two states’ institutional tendencies suggests, however, that legislative tendencies and political cultures only partially explain the 1992 policy outcomes. A more complex and contingent set of factors...

  11. Chapter 6 A BRAVE NEW WORLD? Reproductive Politics from the Past to the Present
    (pp. 171-184)

    Of all the institutions in America, the family is the one whose future is perhaps the most regularly described as being in jeopardy. Whether on the basis of real or imagined social trends and changes, the family repeatedly has been the focal point of general cultural anxieties and social conflict. Contemporary worries about the threat to the normative family, and to its place as the cornerstone of the nation, have parallels in the late-nineteenth-and early-twentieth-century alarm over women’s declining fertility and the subsequent interventions to boost childbearing levels—ranging from the banning of birth control and abortion to the discouragement...

    (pp. 185-187)
    (pp. 188-192)
  14. NOTES
    (pp. 193-240)
    (pp. 241-256)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 257-272)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 273-273)