Proximity and distance in surrogacy: a comparison of domestic, transnational and hybrid surrogacy arrangements among Finnish citizens
The aim of this paper is to analyze narratives of proximity and distance in surrogacy arrangements. The paper is based on an interview study focusing on surrogacy arrangements among Finnish citizens. The study includes six interviews with Finnish surrogate mothers and ten interviews with Finnish intended parents, with a total of 18 respondents. All interviews were semi-structured and were conducted in 2017. Domestic altruistic surrogacy was practiced at four clinics in Finland on medical grounds for heterosexual couples from the early 1990s until 2007, when it no longer was permitted through the Act on Assisted Reproduction. Since then, Finnish intended parents have travelled abroad for commercial arrangements or so called hybrid arrangements. With the concept hybrid surrogacy arrangement I refer to IVF surrogacy at a clinic abroad with a Finnish altruistic surrogate mother. This paper will compare the different types of arrangements, which have occurred through changing reproductive politics and social practices. It focuses on how proximity and distance are described, e.g. with regard to closeness of relationships through relatedness or friendship, closeness in pregnancy follow-up, the ideal of altruism, and geographical distance. The paper argues that narratives of proximity or closeness are expressions of trust, while narratives of distance express feelings of anxiety, uncertainty or indifference. The hybridity of some arrangements seem to blend commercial and altruistic features, as well as the advantages of domestic and transnational surrogacy arrangements.
Lise Eriksson is a postdoctoral researcher in sociology at Åbo Akademi University in Finland. She is currently a visiting researcher at The Uppsala Religion and Society Research Centre (CRS) at Uppsala University in Sweden, and member of the centre of excellence ”The Impact of Religion: Challences for Society, Law and Democracy”. Her research interests include surrogacy, assisted reproductive technologies, and intersections between biopolitics and religion. Eriksson’s postdoctoral project on surrogacy in the Nordic countries is funded by the Academy of Finland. This comparative project studies how surrogacy has been debated in media and in politics in Finland and Norway, and also includes interviews with Finnish surrogate mothers and intended parents. She is interested in how surrogacy challenges or reinforces perceptions of parenthood and kinship. Eriksson completed her PhD at Åbo Akademi University in 2012. The dissertation is a study of debates on assisted reproduction in the Parliament of Finland. During the academic year 2013-2014 she was a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies of Culture at NTNU, Trondheim, Norway, where she participated in the research group ”Biopolitics and Biotechnology”.