What Do Gestational Mothers Deserve?

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This paper analyzes the following question: What do women deserve, ethically speaking, when they agree to gestate a fetus on behalf of third parties? I argue for several claims. First, I argue that gestational motherhood’s moral significance has been misunderstood, an oversight I attribute to the focus in family ethics on the conditions of parenthood. Second, I use a less controversial version of James Rachels’s account of desert to argue that gestational mothers deserve a parent-like voice as well as significant care and support, conclusions that have implications for commercial surrogacy. Finally, I argue that we should not make requests of others when fulfilling them will lead others to deserve goods we cannot reasonably expect them to receive, and I conclude based on this thesis, what I call the “strings attached thesis,” that pro-life arguments in support of prohibitions on abortion commit their proponents to policies which they may not be willing to support.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1031-1045
Number of pages15
JournalEthical Theory and Moral Practice
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Philosophy
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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