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Reproductive Sociology Research Group

New publication from Marcin Smietana (ReproSoc), Sharmila Rudrappa and Christina Weis 'Moral Frameworks of Commercial Surrogacy within the US, India and Russia' in Sexual and Reproductive Health Matters. Read the full article, available in open access, here:


'In this paper, we draw on three ethnographic studies of surrogacy we carried out separately in different contexts: the western US state of California, the south Indian state of Karnataka, and the western Russian metropolis of St Petersburg. In our interviews with surrogate mothers, intended parents, and surrogacy professionals, we traced the meanings and ideologies through which they understood the clinical labour of surrogacy. We found that in the US, interviewed surrogates, intended parents and professionals understood surrogacy as an exchange of both gifts and commodities, where gift-giving, reciprocity, and relatedness between surrogates and intended parents were the major tropes. In India, differing narratives of surrogacy were offered by its different parties: whilst professionals and intended parents framed it as a win-win exchange with an emphasis on the economic side, the interviewed surrogate mothers talked about surrogacy as creative labour of giving life. In Russia, approaches to surrogacy among the interviewed surrogate mothers, professionals and intended parents overlapped in framing it as work and a businesslike commodity exchange. We suggest these three different ways of ethical reasoning about the clinical labour of surrogacy, including justifications of women’s incorporation into this labour, were situated in local moral frameworks. We name them “repro-regional moral frameworks”, inspired by earlier work on moral frameworks as well as on reproductive nationalisms and transnational reproduction. Building on these findings, we argue that any international or global regulation of surrogacy, or indeed any moral stance on it, needs to take these local differences into account.'