3 years ago

Nobody Puts Baby in the Container: The Foetal Container Model at Work in Medicine and Commercial Surrogacy

Teresa Baron


This article argues that a particular metaphysical model permeates cultural practices surrounding pregnancy: the foetal container model. Widespread uncritical reliance on this view of pregnancy has been highly detrimental to women's liberty and reproductive autonomy. In this article, I extend existing critiques of the medical treatment of pregnant women to the context of the burgeoning commercial surrogacy industry. In doing so, I aim to show that our philosophical analysis in both spheres is constrained by the presupposition that the foetus and pregnant woman are metaphysically and ethically distinct entities. By exploring the similarities and differences between the expectations placed on pregnant women in these two spheres, I show that the foetal container model is not a homogeneous understanding of pregnancy applied consistently across contexts; rather, it has been used to justify various practices and attitudes toward pregnancy and pregnant women through different moral frameworks, in the service of different overarching aims.

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