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date: 24 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Although the term “commodification” is sometimes criticized as imprecise or overused, in fact it has a complex philosophical ancestry and can never be used too much because the phenomena that it describes are still gaining ground. The issues that commodification raises in relation to reproductive technologies include whether it is wrong to commodify human tissues generally and gametes particularly, and whether the person as subject and the person as object can be distinguished in modern biomedicine. This chapter examines three areas in which commodification is a serious concern for important reproductive technologies: the sale of eggs for in vitro fertilization and research, the banking of umbilical cord blood, and the use of gestational surrogates both domestically and internationally. In each example, the commodification of women’s reproductive labor is masked by the manner in which “the lady vanishes” under a gift model, ignoring the true economic value of their labor and opening up the possibility of exploitation by commercial interests.

Keywords: commodification, objectification, reproductive technologies, gamete, commercial surrogacy, cord blood, altruism, gift, exploitation

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