Cardiff University | Prifysgol Caerdydd ORCA
Online Research @ Cardiff 
WelshClear Cookie - decide language by browser settings

Modelling pregnancy: is a reconceptualisation of the maternal-foetal relationship the key to better understanding surrogacy and its regulation in India?

Davies, Sara 2022. Modelling pregnancy: is a reconceptualisation of the maternal-foetal relationship the key to better understanding surrogacy and its regulation in India? PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
Item availability restricted.

[thumbnail of 2023DaviesSLPhD.pdf]
PDF - Accepted Post-Print Version
Download (2MB) | Preview
[thumbnail of Cardiff University Electronic Publication Form] PDF (Cardiff University Electronic Publication Form) - Supplemental Material
Restricted to Repository staff only

Download (681kB)


Surrogacy is a complex subject that involves many ethical and legal challenges. International commercial surrogacy adds further complications as globalisation has facilitated the opportunity for an industry that exploits economic and social inequalities. India had become a ‘hotspot’ for international surrogacy, before its prohibition in 2015 and the end of commercial arrangements with the Surrogacy (Regulation) Act, 2021. It has therefore attracted a great deal of journalistic and academic interest with significant attention given to concerns over exploitation, commodification, and the legal parentage and nationality of the children born as a result. This thesis situates the practice within the Indian context and background conditions to explain its development and why it is a pertinent case study for this research. I argue that before addressing these complex issues, we need to establish how pregnancy is conceptualised in surrogacy and how it impacts on the surrogates themselves and on the relevant legal reforms. The main research question considers whether a reconceptualisation of pregnancy would lead to better approaches to the practice and regulation of surrogacy in India. I explore and evaluate two distinct and opposing models of pregnancy in guiding this analysis. The foetal container model is based on a containment view which considers the pregnant woman and foetus as two separate entities and the parthood view derives from the claim that the foetus is as a part of the pregnant woman. From a review of relevant Indian legal and policy materials, I conclude that the foetal container model is the dominant conception and that it facilitates harms, which I analyse within the frameworks of gendered harm and embodiment. The invasive procedures and controlling practices inherent in the practice in India provide evidence of harms from violations of the rights to autonomy, bodily/embodied integrity and to give informed consent which can be traced to the operation of the foetal container model. The original contribution of this work is in revealing the hidden assumptions about pregnancy operating in surrogacy in India, the manner in which they are problematic, and the need for increased awareness of the consequences of this model, leading to more effective regulation that places the surrogates at the centre of law, practice, and regulation.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Law
Subjects: K Law > KZ Law of Nations
Uncontrolled Keywords: Surrogacy Pregnancy Anti-Natalist Pro-Natalist Assisted Reproductive Technologies Metaphysics Foetal Container Model Parthood Model Metaphor India Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill 2016 Surrogacy (Regulation) Act 2021 Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Act 2021 Legal reforms International commercial gestational surrogacy Gendered harm Embodiment Feminist critique and methodologies Autonomy Consent Embodied integrity Bodily integrity Neoliberalism Colonialism Postcolonialism Exploitation Objectification
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 17 May 2023
Last Modified: 17 May 2023 11:01

Actions (repository staff only)

Edit Item Edit Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics