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Transnational surrogacy: Canada's contradictions

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  • Lozanski, Kristin

Abstract

Transnational commercial surrogacy represents a form of medical tourism undertaken by intended parents who seek to hire women in other countries, increasingly often in the global South, as surrogates. While much of the scholarly literature focuses on the conditions of surrogacy within host countries, such as India, there has been limited analysis of transnational surrogacy focused upon origin countries. In this article, I build upon the scholarship that explores the impact of host country structures on transnational surrogacy, with special attention to the significance of Canadian citizenship policy through analysis of legislation and policy vis-à-vis transnational commercial surrogacy. The Canadian case demonstrates clear contradictions between the legislation and policy that is enacted domestically to prohibit commercial surrogacy within Canada and legislation and policy that implicitly sanctions commercial surrogacy through the straightforward provision of citizenship for children born of such arrangements abroad. The ethical underpinnings of Canada's domestic prohibition of commercial surrogacy, which is presumed to exploit women and children and to impede gender equality, are violated in Canada's bureaucratic willingness to accept children born of transnational commercial surrogacy as citizens. Thus, the ethical discourses apply only to Canadian citizens within Canadian geography. The failure of the Canadian government to hold Canadian citizens who participate in transnational commercial surrogacy to the normative imperatives that prohibit the practice within the country, or to undertake a more nuanced, and necessarily controversial, discussion of commercial surrogacy reinforces transnational disparities in terms of whose bodies may be commodified as a measure of gendered inequality.

Suggested Citation

  • Lozanski, Kristin, 2015. "Transnational surrogacy: Canada's contradictions," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 383-390.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:124:y:2015:i:c:p:383-390
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.10.003
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