Two weeks ago I did a post highlighting Melanie Thernstrom’s ode to surrogacy in which she repeatedly referred to the women who gave birth to her children as “gestational carriers.” That was a first for me and at the time I said:
Sounds like something from a horror cloning movie. Well…maybe that kinda fits after all.
Yesterday I noticed a few fellow bloggers came across this rather creepy term with the news that Nicole Kidman and husband Keith Urban added a second daughter to their family via surrogacy. In a press announcement the couple said that they were “truly blessed” and thanked everyone for their support, “our gestational carrier” in particular.
Gestational carriers. Gestational carriers. I am still trying to get my mind around that. It doesn’t even sound human.
I am reminded of Dune’s “axlotl tanks,” which are women who are lobotomized and then their bodies used as gestational carriers for clones. Now, surrogates mothers aren’t lobotomized, of course. But they are being objectified.
“Gestational carrier,” you should note, is just a nicer way of saying “reproductive prostitute.” But it doesn’t change the reality.
I don’t know exactly how new this terminology is, but personally, I think it’s a way to depersonalize the relationship between surrogate and child. Traditionally they are referred to as surrogate “mothers” – which is what a woman who gives birth to a child is, a mother. But that just confuses things, doesn’t it? After all, she’s essentially just an incubator, is she not. She’s not the one who’s going to be losing sleep caring for a newborn baby. It’s not her child!
Oy! As if the act of surrogacy itself isn’t objectifying enough (both for the woman and the child)…