In recent days, Surrogacy returned to the news, after the right-wing has flaunted the weapon of prohibitionist propaganda, declaring it a “universal crime”. Although right-wing prohibitionism is not a solution, it has been clear for years how neoliberalism in Italy aims to get a legislation that goes beyond the surrogacy law number 40 on assisted procreation, thanks to the “Altruism” argument. Laissez-faire on Surrogacy cannot be a solution: a clear example of how, in Western neoliberal democracies, the affirmation of biocapitalism and the total commodification of life are increasing in our society.
Here we interview an expert who witnessed over the years how ethical, bioethical and political debate on the subject created an internal division in the radical left, in the LGBTQ movement and in feminism. Emancipationist feminisms (e.g. moderate feminism, neoliberal feminism) who fight for emancipation from gender discrimination in society embraced a “possibilist” (often extremist) line; while liberationist feminisms, more dedicated to the structural and radical critique of capitalist society as the greatest expression of patriarchy (ecofeminism, Marxist feminism, ‘feminism of difference’, anarcha-feminism) have pointed the finger at the dangers implied in ”motherhood on sale” .
Laura Corradi is an eco-feminist, who deals with indigenous epistemologies, speaks of the patriarchal colonization of women’s bodies by new reproductive technologies, born from the womb of the indefinite development of the current industrial society, from Cartesian-Newtonian science – defined by Vandana Shiva as “patriarchal and chauvinist” – dependent on the neoliberal global market, where everything becomes a commodity. Laura taught Feminist Theory and Sociology of Sexualities at the University of California in Santa Cruz, where she learned the intersectional methods and the importance of intersecting variables of class, gender, race/ethnicity/culture, age, sexual orientation, religion , status and different abilities, in sociological research. She carried out research with a decolonial approach in low-income ethnic communities, among refugees, indigenous peoples and gypsies. Author or co-author of 15 books, 93 scientific and popular articles, she is a supporter of the processes of decolonization of knowledge and methodologies starting from aboriginal perspectives. She is currently associate professor at the University of Calabria for the subjects of Sociology of Health and the Environment, Gender Studies and Intersectional Methodology. On Surrogacy and reproductive tecnologies she published in Italy two books: “In Another Woman’s Womb” and “Embryonal Odissea” and essays in English language. (see footnotes and )
Why are you so critical about the Surrogacy?
It’s an interesting question because somewhere I’m not considered so critical – perhaps because I understand the reasons of those who think differently from me…. I began to be interested in this issue in the 1990s when I was involved in the prevention of environmental causes of cancer in California, I became very concerned about the use of science in a capitalist, patriarchal, racist, heteronormative way. Profit-making has contributed to the environmental crisis where we find ourselves – which also explains the current infertility epidemics. I think it is important to go to the roots of the problem if we want to understand it. With respect to assisted reproductive technologies, after studying the related health problems, I have taken a political position based on the precautionary principle: the respect for the body and the health of women and future children.
Often the right wing behaves as if surrogacy was conceived for the use and consumption of male homoparenthood, in reality, today in the vast majority they are rich heterosexual couples (Cameron Diaz, Cristiano Ronaldo etc …). Why do they come to take advantage of this practice? Isn’t there a risk of medicalising pregnancy for purely aesthetic reasons?
Beyond the very rich people, there is an emergency of infertile couples willing to make economic sacrifices, attracted by the promises of the procreation clinics. The consent they give to invasive practices is certainly not informed about the problems they can face… Not to mention the international trafficking of oocytes and the exploitation of women suppliers. Little is known about this issue.
Do you believe that we can really speak of an “altruistic” surrogacy?
Altruistic surrogacy may happen in very rare occasions. Why instead don’t we talk about making adoptions possible for couples and singles including LGBTQ+ people? We should consider shared forms of motherhood and overcoming the nuclear family towards more democratic ways of life …
Ukraine, Nepal, India and Thailand. The surrogacy has favored a “reproductive tourism” for the rich and white Westerners at the expense of the so-called “Third World”. Is possible an intersectional analysis on the surrogacy crossing relationships of strength, race, gender, and class?
Yes of course, the intersectional methodology highlights systemic inequalities and I am happy that after 30 years of proposing such a perspective in Italy now is being known and sometimes adopted. India and Thailand already changed their laws – they no longer want to be colonies or “womb-renting countries”. They allow surrogacy only within the family. The problem of market surrogacy is still there for other countries and poor women everywhere …
Surrogacy, in vitro fertilization, cloning, “gene editing” are new technologies that increasingly outline how science is not neutral, as much research and discoveries are proved to be dependent on capitalist profit and incentivized by the market. As the ecofeminist critique of Western science teaches, this applies as well to human action on Earth (GMOs, geoengineering, bioengineering, pesticides, cellular agriculture). How far will the development of techno-bio-capitalism go? Do reproductive technologies endanger women’s freedom?
Yes, in a certain sense, these technologies push women back into the biological imperative of procreation. In our patriarchal societies, where a jealous man can still kill you, women are apreciated if they have children and get a Status childless women do not. Certainly science has masters and owners: the large multinationals determine in which direction technology will go – it is a capitalist and militarist direction, it has a hetero-patriarchal character and it is aimed at the supremacy of the West over the rest of the world.
There are also issues concerning health that you have analyzed in your essays “In another Woman’s Womb” and “Embryonal Odyssea” in which you outline an ecofeminist critique…
The ideas and arguments I have produced in these books are based on studies demonstrating health problems with in-vitro fertilization among the newborn ones – mostly unknown. The debate is stagnating on philosophical issues, unfortunately also in the feminist arena – where I have proposed a feminist mediane, for the health of women and children to overcome such an impasse. In my research, I have given priority to the ‘common denominator’ that we still have in the feminist movement and that would allow us an intersectional alliances: women’s health has always united us since the self-managed clinics in the 1970s – health should still be the priority, beyond any division.
What role has the Vatican played in this debate? Their strict extremist prohibitionism prevented other solutions, rather than the surrogacy?
The homo-transphobia of the Vatican in the past decades – with the veto for gay adoptions for example – has contributed to the diffusion of reproductive technologies. Also in the past with the prohibition of contraceptives, the iron line of the Vatican have been causing (unwillingly) a number of abortions and unwanted children.
What is motherhood for you and how should the State intervene around this topic?
I believe motherhood is a social role and a feeling independent from genetics. In my life I have contributed responsibly to the growth of six young ones. The last turned 18 in June and he calls me “mama magique” because I seem to be able to solve his problems … I think motherhood is beautiful; the State should intervene as little as possible – and be helpful when there are poverty or social problems which can damage the lives of minors. The State should legislate intelligently so that many orphan children can be adopted by adults for a personal and social growth. The adoption process still involves, at present, discriminations based on status, gender, class, sexual orientation….
 Corradi, L.aura Maria (2008), “Redefining “reproductive rights”: An ecofeminist perspective on in vitro fertilization, egg markets and surrogate motherhood”, Texler Segal, M. and Demos, V. (Ed.) Advancing Gender Research from the Nineteenth to the Twenty-First Centuries (Advances in Gender Research, Vol. 12), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 245-273. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1529-2126(08)12013-6
 Corradi, Laura Maria (2021) “Assisted Reproductive Technologies and Health-Related Issues Among Women and Children: A Research Review,” Dignity: A Journal of Analysis of Exploitation and Violence: Vol. 6: Iss. 2. https://doi.org/10.23860/dignity.2021.06.02.02
 “Introduzione. Conflitti sulle tecnologie riproduttive, mediane femministe e cause dell’infertilità di massa” in Laura Corradi (a cura di) Odissea Embrionale. Fecondazione in-vitro, eterologa e surroga di gravidanza: problemi di salute, giuridici e sociali, Mimesis, Milano, 2019
Laura Corradi Decolonialità e intersezionalità nel femminismo delle zingare Con una proposta di mediana femminista per il dibattito attuale sui temi difficili che ci attraversano, http://www.ilgiardinodeiciliegi.firenze.it/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Corradi-fff.pdf