Accepted paper:

Bioavailability, mobility, immobility and cultivating the other: new reproductive technologies and transnational commercial surrogacy


Michaela Stockey-Bridge (University of Technology Sydney)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines the politics of mobility and life in transnational commercial surrogacy arrangements between Australia and India.

Paper long abstract:

This paper examines the politics of mobility and life in transnational commercial surrogacy. Women's fecund bodies in the global south are increasingly becoming sites of testing, ova procurement, and surrogacy. Increased global mobility has meant greater reproductive stratification and shifting conceptualizations of the reproductive body, which has resulted in a dramatic increase in consumer choice for the wealthy and an expansion of bodily labour for the poor. The mobile and wealthy now have the choice to travel to low income countries and consume health care that locals are financially unable to access, further stratifying health care provision. Borderless health care is evidence of a trend in which health care is being transformed into a commodity and human rights issue. The global disparity in wealth distribution skews mobility, wealth and health to the privileged global north, while poverty is the underlying commonality of poor health and disease in the global south. This contrast is clear in the descriptions of intended parents and surrogate experiences this paper presents. Australian intended parents wait 'at home' for news of their gestating baby, they are able to get on with their everyday lives. Indian surrogates are physically immersed in the gestational period, carry the pregnancy, endure the frequent testing and surrender their bodies to the surrogacy arrangement. This paper argues that the mobility of the wealthy as relative to the immobility of the poor in the global reproductive market should be understood in terms of the 'Bioavailability' of life.

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