Producing Moral Palatability in the Mexican Surrogacy Market. By: Hovav, April. Gender & Society. Apr2019, Vol. 33 Issue 2, p273-295

Scholars have long debated the relationship between morality and the market. Some argue that morality tempers market interests, while others argue that the market has its own moral order. Meanwhile, feminist scholars have argued that a false binary between altruism, family, and intimacy on the one hand, and the cold calculus of the market on the other, is based in gender ideologies. Norms around motherhood, in particular, emphasize self-sacrifice, love, and altruism in opposition to self-interested market logics. Commercial surrogacy blurs the line between family and commerce and is therefore an ideal setting for studying tensions between altruism and profit. Drawing on ethnographic research and interviews with 114 actors in the Mexican surrogacy industry, I demonstrate that treating altruism and commercialism as dichotomous can further market interests by preserving the moral palatability and profitability of the industry while perpetuating power asymmetries rooted in gender, race, class, and nationality between surrogate mothers and intended parents.