Both the woman whom supplies the ovum and the woman who gestates the child have a claim to being the mother of the child and there does not seem to be any easy way to determine which of the two contributors should be considered the mother the woman who supplies the ovum or the woman who carries the child. Both have a claim to being the mother of the child. If neither claim can be dismissed, then surrogacy by its very nature must involve three people and so either the notion of an exclusive bond between a husband and wife is destroyed or if this is to be preserved, then the surrogate has to be treated as a commodity. Even if we were to find a satisfactory resolution to this dilemma, there are larger questions concerning the identity of the individual. Personhood is not solely determined by either genetic or biological makeup. Identity is constructed in addition to these from ones social relationships. It is these which become problematic for someone with two mothers. It might be argued that it leads to a richer set of relationships, but on the other hand, it might lead, as it often does for children of migrant families living in a foreign culture, to ambiguity and a sense of alienation from those with whom he or she ought to be intimately connected. The child does not have a complete knowledge of the complex web of interrelationships which contribute to his or her identity.
There are in these objections at least two individuals who are being treated as means to an end, the surrogate mother and the child. Charlesworth argues that the child is not being considered as a means to an end because in surrogacy arrangements the child is being brought into existence because the infertile woman wants the same as the fertile woman does, namely to have child and so does not claim a right to have a child any more than the fertile woman does in the same circumstances. Charlesworth sees no difference in the intentions of the two women. There is, however, one major and obvious difference and that is that the infertile woman cannot have a child in the same way that the fertile woman can. In an ideal situation, as we have seen, a couple will want to bring a child into existence as a manifestation of their love for one another and out of a disinterested wish to give life to a new human being. An infertile couple who want to do the same are not wanting something illicit. The difference is that it is not possible for the infertile couple, except through the use of a surrogate. This is a relevant difference, since it involves a third party in the relationship. It is this third party that is being used as a means to an end. There is no doubt that the presence of a third party will bring a degree of ambiguity, at the very least to the relationship between the husband and wife. The assumption by Charlesworth seems to be that the surrogate mother has no relevance whatever to the infertile couple and the child that will result. This is a devaluing of the surrogate and so is misguided. To argue that one does not have a relationship with the person that bore one is false. The person who carried a child has an intimate relationship with that child which cannot be ignored or devalued.
The debate about surrogacy revolves around the following issues: (a) whether it is in the interests of the child involved or in the interests of society; or (b) whether it is exploitative of the birth mother or in the interests of women, as a whole. In considering the issues under (a) it is often argued that children are at risk of harm from having socially constructed family relationships rather than natural ones. Many commentators have likened the experience of children and birth mothers in surrogacy arrangements to children and relinquishing mothers in adoption, and point to the potential psychological and social harm that may result. One argument against surrogacy therefore revolves around the relationships which are involved. Although talk of interests seems to couch the debate in utilitarian terms it is not the only way in which the arguments about surrogacy may be seen. Another way of seeing the debate is in terms of whether surrogacy does harm to the respect due to other human beings, the participants in the surrogacy process and the child who is conceived and brought to term. This involves a consideration of the relationship between the husband and wife (the infertile couple as well as the surrogate and her partner) and the relationship between the child and his or her putative parents. The second argument against surrogacy is concerned with the treatment of a person, generally the surrogate but may include others, as a means to an end. I shall argue that if one takes relationships between persons seriously, then surrogacy will be destructive of intimate relationships. Furthermore, if surrogacy is to avoid this it can only do so by treating the surrogate as a means to an end and not as a person. If this is so, then surrogacy is exploitative and so immoral.
Intimate Partner Violence
Causes, Effects and Prevention
As one of the most common types of domestic violence, IPV takes on the nature of ultimate betrayal, especially for the victims, since the parties involved share an intimate relationship. This might be the case with a husband and wife or any persons intending to be, currently or previously, in such intimate relationships (Cronholm, Fogarty, Ambuel & Harrison, 2011). In instances of IPV, the perpetrator of the violence intends to either control the victim or punish him or her. In many of the cases, the perpetrator is male, while the victim is female, and they are usually engaged in heterosexual relationships. Nevertheless, IPV is not restricted to these kinds of interpersonal relationships. Research shows that cases of IPV are broad-spectrum social disorders that affect groups of people across all forms of intimate interpersonal relationships, whether heterosexual or otherwise.
Despite the complexity of IPV as a form of domestic violence, there seems to be some identifiable social and demographic risk factors that tend to predispose people in intimate relationships to the vice. According to Jewkes (2002), women are more likely to suffer at the hands of their male intimate partners in heterosexual relationships than any other demographic. This means that gender has a lot to do with the progression of IPV in intimate relationships, as well as being indicative of the directionality of the incidental violence. This is to say that it is easier to tell who the perpetrator and the victim in heterosexual cases are. Similarly, social and economic factors, such as poverty and financial empowerment, are seen as contributive to the rising cases of IPV. This is especially the case in heterosexual relationships where women are economically disenfranchised.
IPV tends to bring about various negative effects in the lives of the people involved. For instance, abused persons typically suffer the health sequelae of continued subjection to physical and psychological violence (Campbell, 2002), which range from bodily injury to post-traumatic stress disorder. In light of the foregoing facts, there are various remedies to the vice capable of addressing both its root causes as well as remedying its negative effects. For example, victims can be provided with effective care solutions by relevant authorities and risk groups being empowered to either prevent or escape from situations that might catalyze IPV.
There are several possible causes of IPV among intimate partners, with most of them being associated with conditions of increased risk within the relationships. They include poverty, socio-cultural disenfranchisement, conflict, alcohol, and social norms. The following is a brief discourse on how each of these factors might contribute to increased cases of IPV.
The scarcity of financial resources among people engaged in intimate social relationships tends to bring forth conditions of psychological distress. This is especially the case among people living in low-income nations such as those in the developing parts of the world. Most often this happens because the men with fewer financial resources also tend to have fewer avenues, through which to release their stress. As their stress levels continue to increase, Jewkes (2002) suggests that the men undertake to defend their attenuated form of control through a stereotypical expression of masculinity by hitting their female partners. This physical violence is, however, only a part of the IPV problem in such instances. Given the levels of economic dependence of women in such relationships, they tend to suffer psychological violence; they have to do whatever their male partners decide as the latter seek to hold on to whatever is left of their fleeting masculinity at the time.
2. Socio-cultural Disenfranchisement
Another case in point, which is related to the foregoing aspect of poverty, is that of social marginalization among some women. In some instances, women are denied access to basic education in contrast with men, for whom education is viewed as a basic right. In such cases, the women are placed at the lowest ranks of society, which makes them vulnerable to other forms of unfair treatment. For instance, Jewkes (2002) states that the men in such situations tend to look down upon their women. This then leads the men to establish skewed arrangements within the relationship, in which the women are subordinates.
People in interpersonal relationships typically go through moments of disagreements and arguments. In some relationships, however, these moments of disagreements take an aggressive turn. Similarly, some relationships experience periods of frequent arguments. According to Jewkes (2002), physical violence is used as a strategy of winning an argument. This means that one of the parties, typically the man, takes to physical violence as a way of asserting his position and authority. These arguments can be about anything, from intimacy to finances, but if the parties involved are predisposed to severe anger, the arguments can escalate to physical violence.
Alcohol consumption and violence are widely associated with each other, even outside the context of IPV. Nevertheless, their relationship is much more pronounced in the case of IPV, given the interpersonal nature of the situation. According to Jewkes (2002), excessive consumption of alcohol among both men and women is associated with reduced inhibitions and impaired judgment. In the first case, a person engaged in an intimate interpersonal relationship might be harboring thoughts of hurting his or her partner but lacking the motivation to carry them out. However, after consuming alcohol, all the inhibitions and rational restraint are removed. This is also the case with impaired judgment, in which the perpetrator might end up thinking and believing that his or her actions are somehow justified.
5. Social Norms
A more recent dimension of IPV is that associated with social conditioning. Jewkes (2002) argues that some instances of IPV in the community can be understood by looking at the incidence of the vice within the family. For example, if a boy grows up in a household where his father abuses his mother, he is most likely going to repeat the same behavior with his own partner. Similarly, for the girl who grows up in a home where the same events occur, she might end up putting herself in a relationship where she gets abused.
The effects of IPV are largely confined to two broad spectra: physical and mental health. The following is a brief account of each of these broad categories, with much emphasis being laid on data available from the United States.
1. Physical Health Effects
Most cases of IPV entail women as the victims and their male partners as the perpetrators (Campbell, 2002). Physical injuries, such as trauma to the head, face, and neck, are the typical consequences of IPV as reported by the victims to their physicians. Few of these injuries end up being life-threatening, though there have been reports of acute trauma being sustained by the victims. In addition to the traumatic physical injuries, there are also incidences of psychosomatic health problems directly associated with IPV.
For example, some of the victims report migraines that do not appear to have any functional origin, thereby indicating a likely connection to the psychological aspects of the violence. In other cases, victims have reported gastrointestinal complications that include loss of appetite as well as irritable bowel syndrome. Finally, IPV has been associated with sexual assault, especially on female victims (Campbell, 2002). This includes instances of forced sexual intercourse leading to a wide range of gynecological problems such as chronic pelvic pain.
2. Mental Health Effects
IPV is generally associated with the comorbid psychological disorders of depression and post-traumatic stress disorders. In the first case of depression, women reporting the problem also tend to be doubly susceptible to the stressors of the circumstances that typically lead to IPV. For example, the women could be developing depression as a result of extant financial constraints within the household. Such situations only serve to make the condition worse for the victim. According to Campbell (2002), the actual directionality of the causal relationship between IPV and depression needs further study. In the case of post-traumatic stress disorder, the victims of IPV report higher incidences of the condition than people without any exposure to the vice. Some of the victims also report suicidal tendencies.
Appropriate measures for addressing the problem of IPV are essentially related to the vice’s primal causes. In this case, finding methods of preventing IPV has to involve an exhaustive assessment of its probable root causes. With regard to some of the causes outlined above, the following is a brief discussion of two categories of possible intervention measures.