I'm surprised none of my fellow bloggers has posted this yet, so here goes. The cover story of last Sunday's NYT Magazine was "Her Body, My Baby," style reporter Alex Kuczynski's account of her experience hiring a gestational surrogate to bear a child conceived with Kuczynski's own egg and her husband's sperm.
The story has raised quite a flap in the blogosphere. On one side are ardent defenders of Ms. Kuczynski. Their comments tend to express sympathy for the writer's struggle with infertility, IVF, and miscarriages; support the absolute right to self-determination in matters of reproduction, assisted reproduction included; gratitude for the author's open and honest description of her experiences; and encouragement of the "you go, girl" type. On the other side are sharp critics, who question Kuczynski's motives and values, seeing her decision as driven by "narcissism" and fueled by "too much money," and in some cases, drawing parallels with Kuczynski's adventures in cosmetic surgery.
What should we make of all this? And what accounts for the vehemence of the commentary, on both sides?
The most obvious answer, in my mind, lies in the featured photos. The one on the left is of the author, babe in arms (not facing the camera), and the baby's brown-skinned, uniformed nurse, standing outside the author's well-appointed home. The one on the right is of Cathy Hilling, the gestational surrogate, barefoot and pregnant, sitting with her dog on the front porch of her home, which could use some new paint and maybe some landscaping help. The images clearly juxtapose differences in class and race.
I don't want to start (yet another) flame war about the article--there are enough of those out there already. (Maybe this is why the NYT has shut down comments on the article, having received 404 since Sunday.) I do think there is still room for civil discussion of some more important questions, though ... Anybody game?