It took me a few moments of reading Hartounie to realize I had come across something similar a few years ago in the case of Baby M.  I found it in Michael Sandel’s Justice course available on YT.

The stupid embedding isn’t working correctly, so jump ahead to 27:09.  Each video is broken up into 2 classes, and the second part of this video concerns itself with commercial surrogacy. My post probably will not make much sense without watching the video, but it’s totally worth the time for anyone, not just Sungold.

An important distinctions exists between the two cases: Anna Johnson was a surrogate to the Calvert’s child, carry the zygote while not contributing to its genetic makeup while Mary Beth Whitehead was Baby M’s actual mother (and therefore not surrogate).  I think this would come up as the main reason for the different outcomes in each case, but I think there is enough similarity between the two that the arguments surrounding both cases are transferable to a degree.

In particular, it seems that the idea of informed consent remains as relevant to Anna Johnson as it did to the case of Baby M.  There was no possible way Johnson could have known the terms of the contract she had signed.  For Whitehead, it was argued that a mother cannot know how she is going to feel once she gives birth to her child, but i think that can be extended to parenthood in general and specifically to Johnson’s case.  While Parslow and other others involved in Johnson v. Calvert argued primarily on genetic lines that the child deserves to know and interact with its biological parents, they show little concern for how Johnson feels. I think this highlights the problem/contradiction of their belief in ‘racial nonrecognition.’  Media rumors about Johnson’s welfare fraud ring too sharply of the stereotypical black single mother on welfare.  They not only enforce the idea that Johnson is an incapable parent (another stereotype that Hartouni notes is commonly raised against women such as Johnson) for being on welfare in the first place, but that she has been negligent in reporting her income and effectively skirting the system.

In additions to the major doubts I have regarding the impartiality of those involved in Johnson v. Calvert, I think the common issue of surrogacy between the cases deserves very strong apprehension.  While I recognize that including a third party can be a viable avenue for a couple having trouble conceiving to alleviate those difficulties, I am not able to accurately write out what is an acceptable means of having that happen.  It’s hard for me not to read these stories as comparable to selling human beings (or selling some services that allow for humans to come into being), that it is dehumanizing to allow for market transfers of reproductive rights because we’re equating a monetary value onto them.  Again I want to note that this seems to be the first impression I am taking away from these two cases. While there are some similar issues between Johnson and Whitehead, both cases radically devolve from one another as the court proceedings pressed on with perhaps greater controversy arising with Anna Johnson because of the impossibility of racial nonrecognition.

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