Biological Colonialism at the Movies

by The Center for Bioethics and Culture on November 7, 2010

By Wesley J. Smith, J.D., Special Consultant to the CBC

HBO has a documentary out that apparently highlights the baby gestating industry that is growing in India, which I have dealt with before (see here and here and here).

Christianity Today takes note in its Women’s Blog. From “Outsourcing Baby Making in India:”

Two scenes from the HBO documentary Google Baby illustrate the injustice and heartbreak in the fertility tourism boom. In one scene, an Indian woman who recently gave birth to a baby for a foreign couple sits by her husband as he talks about the difference their surrogate payment has made, allowing them to buy a house and other comforts. He says he expects his wife will serve as a surrogate again. He says that, although women’s brains are generally inferior to men’s, his wife made a good decision. The wife, who admitted in an earlier scene that handing the baby over right after birth was very painful, listens in silence.

In another scene, an Indian woman is on the operating table, giving birth via C-section. She says she can feel the doctor cutting, and it becomes clear that her anesthesia is not working. The anesthesiologist puts something into her IV line and soon, she is lying still, sedated. One doctor standing by her head pushes hard on her belly over and over, as if he is kneading a stubborn loaf of bread. Another doctor pulls the baby out. Immediately after delivering the baby, the doctor answers a phone call while a staff person wraps the baby and takes her away. The baby’s intended parents will not arrive in India to pick her up for several days, so in the meantime, the staffer will care for the infant.

The surrogate lies on a stretcher, her eyes dazed and vacant as her husband holds her hand and strokes her hair. A baby was just born, an event that usually brings people together. But all of the parties involved are essentially alone, disconnected from each other and from the central event of the baby’s birth: The doctor takes a phone call, the surrogate woozily recovers from sedation, the intended parents make travel plans, and the baby is whisked away.

Why is this in a “women’s blog?” It belongs in a human rights blog.

Moreover, it isn’t a “Christian” concern that can unite conservative and liberal people of that faith, as the writer suggests (not that such a desire is wrong). Rather, it is a matter of exploitation and oppression of the destitute–in particular, women–by those with means and power, an insidious method of biological colonialism. That should unite us all in revulsion and opposition no matter what our religious persuasion–or lack thereof.

Previous post:

Next post: