Monday, August 01, 2005


Richard Posner has been often accused of favoring "baby-selling," with the implication nearly always being that anyone who favors such a notion could not possibly be named to the Supreme Court, or is outside the pale, etc., etc.

Three points:

1. In the first place, what Posner actually recommended was that "some adoption agencies be permitted to pay women contemplating abortion to carry the fetus to term and put the newborn child up for adoption." Considering how many thousands of dollars are earned by everyone else who participates in the adoption process -- agencies, attorneys, etc. -- I don't see what is so remarkable about this proposal. Indeed, birth mothers are usually paid a good deal of money by the adoptive parents on the theory that they are covering her "expenses" related to the birth. (But, of course, money is fungible.)

2. Why isn't it also "baby-selling" to sell the creation of human embryos via IVF? The parents fork over several thousand dollars, and they expect a viable baby in return.

3. In any event, even if you can think of various reasons not to deem IVF "baby-selling," why would it be the case that (1) Posner's proposal, and (2) getting rid of IVF would both be unthinkable? Why should IVF and Posner's proposal be classified as opposite extremes?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suppose a distinction that could be drawn is that the two procedures primarily affect two different classes of people. A poorer woman presumably would be more swayed by the chance to recover money for her baby than a richer woman would be. Conversely, IVF is generally only an option for the middle- and upper-classes, whose decisions to use this approach do not seem to be money-driven. Could the result be that paying mothers for there babies tends to "commodify" the lives and reproductive capacities of the poor in a way that IVF does not so affect the middle- and upper-classes? Of course, this analysis assumes that commodification of human life is a bad thing.

4:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a great pity that Posner will not be nominated to the Supreme Court. He is the towering giant of his generation on the bench. But then, Learned Hand and Henry Friendly weren't nominated, either.

8:52 AM  
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2:06 PM  

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