‘Surrogates All Make that Choice to Help’: Surrogacy in the Neoliberal Reproductive Market

Zsuzsa Berend


Recent scholarships on neoliberal practices document how, in varied settings, people who would benefit from regulation embrace the neoliberal logic. Drawing on ethnographic research on the largest US online surrogacy support forum I explore surrogates’ discussions of choices and responsibilities. Surrogates maintain that infertile couples, whom they see as emotionally vulnerable, have no choice but to turn to surrogacy. Surrogates claim to be well-informed, intelligent, independent, and empathic woman who assume responsibility for the legal, relational, and medical aspects of pregnancy and reject standardization of ‘surrogacy journeys’. They want more oversight of fertility clinics and surrogacy agencies but ultimately argue for individual accountability. Surrogates’ discussions provide insights into the reasons why practitioners are, in many ways, in alignment with neoliberal ideas and practices: because they are compatible with collective definition of surrogacy as a private rather than a business relationship.


neoliberalism; assisted reproduction; online communication

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13136/isr.v10i3.369

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