New Criticals

Most of the surrogates involved in this business are gestational surrogates meaning that they are implanted with an embryo created by the egg and sperm of the contracting parents, or the sperm of the contracting father and an egg donated or purchased from another woman.  This means that nothing about their pregnancies is “natural”. Rather, the reproductive body of a gestational surrogate should be understood as bio-technologically and capitalistically produced. The surrogates are not only carefully screened and medically tested, their uterine lining has to be prepared for the embryo transfer. This preparation involves lengthy procedures and complex drug regimes: their menstrual cycle is carefully tracked and they have to take a variety of hormones as daily injections and pills. The transfer of the embryo is a medical procedure performed by professional physicians. Embryos in the liquid medium in which they have been growing are flushed through the surrogate’s cervix into the uterus. While most of these invariably poor women in the global South never received any medical care or prenatal check-ups during the pregnancy or the delivery of their own children, their surrogate pregnancies are highly monitored and medicalized.

The bodies and reproductive capacities of these women are thus capitalistically expropriated, but not simply as a natural, available resource. Their bodies are effectively produced as exploitable nature, and their biological capacities are engineered, manipulated, regulated and monitored in an intensified way. They become integral components in a sophisticated biotechnological process as well as in the capitalist circuits of valorization.