Anyone following the debate over the legal status of surrogacy should read Sociological Debates on Gestational Surrogacy: Between Legitimation and International Abolition, an open source book published by Springer.
Daniela Bandelli, a sociologist at LUMSA University in Rome, examines competing views on gestational surrogacy and its social implications in the light of its growing popularity as an option for parenthood and a work opportunity for poor women. It is based on her research into surrogacy in the US, Mexico and Italy.
She writes as a feminist who opposes surrogacy as harmful for both women and children, even if it fulfils understandable adult desires for offspring.
She points out that the Covid-19 pandemic could have a lasting impact on the surrogacy industry. When borders closed, the pandemic revealed that many countries had effectively been outsourcing surrogacy to countries where the rights of gestational surrogates were less protected, like Ukraine. Before the emergency legislators had been able to ignore or defer debates over legalisation because people who wanted it could always find a jurisdiction where it was clearly legal. Now, however, it is unsure whether the world will ever return to the same ease of travel. There will be enormous pressure in countries like Italy, Australia or the UK to permit commercial surrogacy.
“We do not know if once the pandemic is over, we will return to roam the globe as before. The prediction that seems quite certain to me is that unemployment, insecurity, social and economic inequality will increase in both Europe and the United States. This second development could favour the increase of female bioavailability and perhaps a restructuring of the short-haul surrogate market, if not on a national basis. The dystopian scenario that Riggs and Due hypothesized in Australia could come true in many Western countries, including Italy: a scenario in which some groups of people within the same country ‘are seen as less valuable citizens and thus available for commodification’.”