"Surrogate Mothering" and Women's Freedom: A Critique of Contracts for Human Reproduction
Mary (Molly) Shanley
Jake Orr

Feminist theorists and students of public policy are deeply divided over the question whether the so-called surrogate motherhood contract by which a woman agrees to undergo artificial
insemination, bear a child, and relinquish the child at birth to someone else (usually the biological father and his wife) is liberating or oppressive to women. Some supporters of contract pregnancy regard a woman as having a right to enter a contractual arrangement to
bear a child and receive money for her service; they view the prohibition or nonenforcement of pregnancy contracts as illegitimate infringements on a woman's autonomy and self-determination. Others focus on the desire for a child that motivates those who hire a woman to bear a child; they argue that to prohibit or fail to enforce pregnancy contracts violates the commissioning party's" right to procreate."

Those who oppose pregnancy contracts, by contrast, see such contracts as oppressive to the childbearing woman, particularly if she enters the contract out of dire economic need or is forced to fulfill the contract against her will. These differing viewpoints are reflected even in a dispute as to what to call such a pregnancy; proponents tend to accept the term surrogate motherhood, while those with reservations resist calling a woman who bears a child a "surrogate" mother (although some regard her as functioning as a "surrogate wife" to a man who commissions the pregnancy).