Commodification chronicles: Black Friday discounts on babies from Ukraine

It’s Black Friday in Kiev! The Ukrainian clinic BioTexCom is offering 3% off!!!!! on its surrogacy and fertility packages. The discount deal runs from November 15 to November 26.

An all-inclusive VIP surrogacy package will cost only 1,947€ (US$2,200); a “Perfect Chance” IVF package only 447€ ($500). “Hurry up to make your dream of a baby come true!”, says the promotional blurb on the website.

BioTexCom is a big player in international surrogacy and works hard at marketing its products. It is active on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube (in Romanian, English, German, Chinese, Japanese, French, Spanish, Bulgarian.) It sponsors a baseball team and a juijitsu team. Clients can even get a BioTexCom tattoo.

Now that we’re broached the topic of commodification, let’s turn from Ukraine to the United States and Town & Country, America’s lifestyle magazine for the seriously wealthy. One of its articles this month is “In Vitro Veritas: The Truth About the Instagram Baby Boom. The golden age of status surrogacy is here, and the new parents are healthy, thriving, and all over social—get used to it.”

If you can’t find it quickly, just flip to the “Money and Power” section.

The gist of the article is the high net-worth individuals have the power to get the babies they want, especially gay couples. “Surrogacy is something that gay men developed before the culture at large caught up,” writes pop culture journalist Brian Moylan. The mothers are barely mentioned – they are just “carriers”.

The focus of the article is fashion designer Joseph Altuzarra and his husband, the real estate investor Seth Weissman. Their daughter Emma, born of a surrogate mother, came in handy as a prop for Altuzarra’s 2020 fall collection, as advertised in Vogue.

“As with so much in life, the rich are paying for convenience and how they want to exercise it. The process itself can cost prospective parents anywhere between US$145,000 and $250,000,” Moylan writes.

Money even buys good health and vitality for the ageing commissioning parents: “none of these high-profile mommies and daddies are over the hill. In fact, they’re healthy, they’re thriving, and they’re everywhere. Get used to it.”

What F. Scott Fitzgerald said so well in the Jazz Age rings true today, but this time the prize acquistiions are not fast cars, big houses, and beautiful mistresses, but beautiful babies:

Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft, where we are hard, cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand.

Status surrogacy in Kiev or New York means that children are just trinkets, tokens of conspicuous consumption, and their mothers are chattels, mere anonymous “carriers”. It’s a golden age for the commodification of human life.


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