Contested Surrogacy and the Gender Order: An Israeli Case Study

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Though greatly routinized over the past two decades, assisted reproductive technologies still invoke an occasional public debate around a dilemma that is constituted as unprecedented. This paper examines one such case that took place in Israel—that of a legal dispute between estranged partners over the right to have their fertilized eggs implanted in a surrogate mother's womb. The paper probes the political repercussions of the case in terms of the impact on the pronatalist local order and gender relations. It shows that certain subjects, mostly those of a more “female” domestic character, received exceptional public attention and indeed called into question prevailing ideas and power relations. At the same time, in other contexts of the debate, the status quo was reaffirmed within an updated framework. On the whole, the dilemma at hand and the innovative options enabled by technology were largely contained within the established gender order. Still, the case did contribute, if modestly, to women's rights and autonomy. The paper's conclusion suggests that public debates regarding reproductive disruptions may become a vehicle for both patriarchal gender relations and social transformation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-44
JournalJournal of Middle East Women's Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2007


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