My biological father was paid about $10 each time he ‘donated’ sperm in the late 1970’s. In recent times globalization of the assisted reproductive technology industry has resulted in a dizzying array of donor egg, sperm, embryo and surrogacy options becoming available, intertwined with the advent of the market society philosophy in which everything can be legitimately bought and sold. Baby Gammy was commissioned by an Australian couple in a commercial surrogacy arrangement in Thailand, but was subsequently not wanted because he has Down syndrome. This artwork contrasts the unreal cartoon style babies on the supermarket shelves with the real baby, Gammy, who is being handed back at the returns counter. Is this a case of buyer’s remorse or the legitimate return of ‘goods’ that were not ‘fit for purpose’? The media tends to focus on ‘joyous miracle baby’ stories of cross-border fertility tourism instead of asking more probing questions such as ‘does society condone baby trade?’ I feel for people such as Gammy who may be denied knowledge of their biological parents or surrogate mother due to their origins in a commercial transaction, and I wonder if later in life this will impact on their sense of humanity.
- Lauren Burns