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Book Chapter

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This chapter takes up less well-trodden questions about whether a surrogacy arrangement in which one person carries a pregnancy for another is ethically problematic in itself—and if so, why. Pregnancy and delivery are quintessential bodily labor. One set of arguments tests whether carrying a pregnancy is the type of bodily labor one person ethically may perform for another, whether or not for pay. These arguments contend that surrogacy cannot be a permissible service, no matter how well intended or structured. Another set of questions probes the value and identity of the child, asking whether surrogacy is inevitably akin to baby selling or, if not, devalues the child in some other way. A final set of related questions attends to whether surrogacy properly respects the relationship between the pregnant woman and the child-to-be. The general strategy of the argument is to show that we cannot reject all surrogacy on any of these grounds without also rejecting other practices that we find acceptable. The conclusion is that although there are serious ethical issues about surrogacy arrangements, they can be allayed by how these arrangements are structured and are far outweighed by the interests of infertile individuals or couples in becoming parents.