More than a Womb: Recognizing and Protecting ‘Gestational Motherhood’ in India’s Commercial Surrogacy Industry




Mukherjee, Meghna

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Texas State University, Center for Diversity and Gender Studies


The advancements in reproductive medicine over the past thirty years have redefined what constitutes parenthood, and more specifically motherhood. These improvements have fostered a global market around reproductive labor, most notably that of commercial surrogacy. Considering a case study of commercial surrogacy in Kolkata, India, this paper presents research on the question of how reproductive technology is redefining motherhood, and more specifically how commercial surrogacy has given rise to the experience of 'gestational motherhood.' Although there are numerous issues surrounding exploitation of surrogate mothers in India, this research will focus solely on the need to recognize and protect gestational motherhood and the emotional labor it involves. Rather than examining surrogate-client relations, this paper gives voice to Indian service-side actors to better understand their rationales and concerns related to reproductive labor. Moreover, this discussion employs a constructive approach, aiming to utilize service-side actors' perspectives to inform policy approaches that can support vulnerable surrogate mothers and safeguard their emotional labor.



gender, reproductive labor, fertility, medicine, technology, surrogacy, gestational motherhood, emotional labor


Mukherjee, M. (2018). More than a womb: Recognizing and protecting ‘gestational motherhood’ in India’s commercial surrogacy industry. Journal of Research on Women and Gender, 8(1), pp. 64-79.


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