Ethics: Whose Child Is This?

Baby M. and the agonizing dilemma of surrogate motherhood

The second half of the 20th century has been full of uneasy trade-offs and Faustian bargains. One after another, life's most intimate and privileged matters -- sexual relations, conception, birth and death -- have been delivered to the unsanctified ground of science and commerce. The results may be welcome: the laboratory study of sex leads to treatments for sexual dysfunction; technologies of fertility give hope to the childless; mechanical organs offer the chance of longer life. But even as the gains are counted, the reservations mount. Even when the mind assents, the heart sometimes shivers.

For anyone but the central figures,...

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