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Med Anthropol Q. 2003 Mar;17(1):78-98.

The medicalization of "nature" in the "artificial body": surrogate motherhood in Israel.

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  • 1Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Hebrew University of Jerusalem.


In this article, I draw on anthropological and feminist scholarship on the body and the nature/culture divide as a framework for understanding the place of surrogate mothers in a conceptual ideology that connects motherhood with nature. I explore links between the medicalization of childbirth in Israel and the personal agency of surrogate mothers as relayed through interviews. Taking the patriarchal context of the Israeli surrogacy law of 1996 into consideration, I underscore surrogates' imaginative use of medical metaphors as tools for the subversion of surrogacy's threatening social connotations. By redefining the surrogate body as "artificial" and locating "nature" in the commissioning mother's body, surrogates adopt medical rhetoric to transform surrogacy from a transgressive act into an alternative route toward achieving normative Israeli national reproductive goals.

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