In my youth, when the new reproductive technologies were still new, I remember hearing the argument that surrogacy and certain other forms of reproductive technology would lead to the “commodification of children.” The people discussing the issue seemed interested in that viewpoint in a academic sort of way, but most people did not seem to find that abstract risk a compelling enough reason not to allow people to realize their cherished dream of children. We certainly wouldn’t want to tell people what they should or should not do.
Which lead us to where we are now – parents pressuring a surrogate to abort a baby following a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome. “The child is seen by the commissioning parents as a product, and in this case a substandard product because of a genetic condition,” said Prof. Francoise Baylis, a bioethicist at Dalhousie University. No kidding.
So, that is what the commodification of children means in practice – a child in utero is branded a “substandard product” of which the consumer refuses to delivery.
Contrast this impoverished view of humanity and human relationship with that of this parent of a “defective” child. This article was written in response to the televised comments of a British advice columnist stating that “it was better to terminate a pregnancy than to condemn a disabled or unwanted child to a lifetime of emotional or physical suffering”. But that’s another eugenics story.