New Criticals

This process of production is also importantly a process of externalization, however: the reproductive body of the surrogate has to be externalized as “nature”, as mere biological matter, in order to create a legitimate role for the “real” genetic parents. The “surrogate carriers” have to sign strict contracts giving up any legal claim to the baby. They are thus reduced to their biological, natural functions even if these functions are ultimately socially produced and legally defined.

It is important to recognize that the capitalist production of nature in the laboratory or in the fertility clinic does not entirely displace the necessity of external nature, however. The incredible, awe-inspiring and potentially humbling capacity of the female body to turn mere genetic material into a unique, sentient human person is obviously still a fundamental prerequisite for the multi-million baby-business. The phenomenon of surrogate pregnancy should nevertheless be viewed as another demonstration of Smith’s argument that advanced capitalism today is able to absorb nature more fully and completely within its circuits by producing an exploitable capitalist nature and bypassing the “external nature” to the greatest extent possible.