Reproduction in the global marketplace

Eric Blyth

in Social work and global health inequalities

Published by Policy Press

Published in print September 2009 | ISBN: 9781847421951
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447303541 | DOI:
Reproduction in the global marketplace

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This chapter discusses the implications of the development of a global marketplace in reproduction services and proposes new directions for social-work action based on the perspective that reproduction is an issue of human rights. Social-work engagement with issues of reproduction – family planning, fertility, pregnancy, and birth – varies both within and between countries. Services sometimes focus on a particular policy such as planned parenthood and population control; sometimes on particular groups considered vulnerable or ‘dangerous’ such as young parents; sometimes on decision making, for example around termination of pregnancy; and sometimes on the support of parents and children facing particular health challenges. The global commodification of reproduction exacerbates health inequalities embedded in the processes of reproduction. There are inequalities in access to services that depend on people's ability to pay and inequalities in risk in an unregulated market. Financial and social inequalities provide the context in which women can be exploited, for example, as ‘donors’ or surrogates, because of their poverty. The chapter also discusses the role of social workers in combating the excesses of international reproductive services.

Keywords: global marketplace; reproduction services; social work; human rights; reproduction; planned parenthood; population control; health inequalities; social inequalities; social workers

Chapter.  4768 words. 

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