I'm so outraged, I'm almost speechless.
It nearly slipped by me that a part of the legislation proposed by the federal Liberals to govern reproductive technology suggests prohibiting surrogate mothers from receiving cash for their services.
In a legislation that otherwise hits the mark on curtailing ethically questionable practices such as human cloning, the sale and purchase of human embryos and pre-natal gender selection, this clause stands out as an ever-so-subtle effort on the part of the federal government to set the women's movement back a few decades.
Call me the butter-churn prophet, if you will, but in an era when women despise the "barefoot and pregnant" label to such an extent they'll wear agonizingly painful (but beautiful!) shoes rather than none, the old boys club has put a bunioned foot seriously wrong this time. Women have battled literally since the dawn of time against the notion that their existence on this planet is justified only by their ability to bear children. Now, in a time when women are turning this ball and chain to their advantage by making a little profit off it, here come the fat men on the Hill, also known as the Liberals, to make sure they don't misunderstand their place. Sheltered behind a facade of concern for the surrogate mother's moral well-being, our cynical and self-serving government is pushing their noses into a woman's uterus and declaring that it remain some kind of untrammelled vessel of purity.
Wake up, gentlemen. The ideal that life is sacred is dead. Altruism may not be, but it has an attractive update called commercialism. You really can put a price on human life. And in case you'd forgotten--men get paid for sperm donations. Why do they get compensation for one of the necessary ingredients of life when women are expected to provide another out of the goodness of their hearts?
I'm taking a long shot that no man in politics has ever endured a pregnancy, but if they had, they might understand why a surrogate mother would ask for financial compensation. In a country where we reasonably believe in rewarding honest efforts, it strikes me as singularly obtuse of the feds not to recognize the emotional, physical and mental cost of a pregnancy. That's not something you reward with a cookie and a pat on the head. If a woman wants to charge a user fee for her womb, that's her right--her absolute right. Legislating women's control over their own bodies is a dangerous precedent to set, and for what reason? Because the idea of women undertaking some business enterprises of their own makes a few old guys with too much power squirm?
When men and women charge for sexual services, that's amiably tolerated. When men donate their sperm, they're remunerated. To deny a woman the right to demand financial compensation for providing a valuable service that offers no other reward is blatant hypocrisy. Women have been doomed to a second-rate existence through childbirth for centuries and now, some have decided that it's time our reproductive capabilities be properly appreciated. The only thing the Liberal government should do about that is to keep their large addled noses out of it.
Ruth Davenport can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.