Cover of My Body, Their Baby by Grace Y. Kao
My Body, Their Baby
A Progressive Christian Vision for Surrogacy
Grace Y. Kao


August 2023
274 pages.
from $30.00

Hardcover ISBN: 9781503610262
Paperback ISBN: 9781503635975
Ebook ISBN: 9781503635982

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Drawing on her own experience as a surrogate mother, Grace Y. Kao assesses the ethics of surrogacy from a feminist and progressive Christian perspective, concluding that certain kinds of surrogacy arrangements can be morally permissible—and should even be embraced.

While the use of assisted reproductive technology has brought joy to countless families, surrogacy remains the most controversial path to parenthood. My Body, Their Baby helps readers sort through objections to this way of bringing children into the world. Candidly reflecting on carrying a baby for her childless friends and informed by the reproductive justice framework developed by women of color activists, Kao highlights the importance of experience in feminist methodology and Christian ethics. She shows what surrogacy is like from the perspective of women becoming pregnant for others, parents who have opted for surrogacy (including queer couples), and the surrogate-born children themselves.

Developing a constructive framework of ethical norms and principles to guide the formation of surrogacy relationships, Kao ultimately offers a vision for surrogacy that celebrates the reproductive generosity and solidarity displayed through the sharing of traditionally maternal roles.

About the author

Grace Y. Kao is Professor of Ethics and founding co-director of the Center for Sexuality, Gender, and Religion at Claremont School of Theology. She co-edited Encountering the Sacred: Feminist Reflections on Women's Lives (with Rebecca Todd Peters, 2018).

"The world needs more scholars like Grace Kao. With thoughtful rigor and deeply human tenderness, she provides a faithful framework for understanding surrogacy. Her cogent, compassionate arguments illuminate a practice that is often consigned to the shadows, and her work shines with creativity, empathy, and care."

—Jeff Chu, author of Does Jesus Really Love Me?

"Drawing on her own experience both as a surrogate and a Christian theologian, Kao makes a powerful and rigorously argued Christian ethical case for surrogacy. An invaluable resource for parents, pastors, and all concerned with reproduction and its ethical implications."

—Susan A. Ross, Loyola University Chicago, author of Anthropology: Seeking Light and Beauty

"Kao's descriptions of her experience as a surrogate succeed in bringing the moral arguments for and against surrogacy into sharper focus. This insightful book shows us how narratives shape our moral visions."

—Aline Kalbian, Florida State University, author of Sex, Violence, and Justice

"This book breaks the ice on Christian feminist reluctance to think about surrogacy. Painstakingly researched and accessibly written, it will not only inspire needed attention to surrogacy but also influence the whole landscape of Christian ethics of reproduction."

—Cristina Traina, Fordham University, author of Erotic Attunement

"This book provides an expansive Christian vision for surrogacy that bravely probes complex social ethics questions surrounding it. Kao's accessibly articulated and social justice–oriented guidelines offer a roadmap for decision-making that contributes fresh, thought-provoking analysis to feminist reproductive ethics."

—Traci C. West, Drew University Theological School, author of Solidarity and Defiant Spirituality

"Kao masterfully weaves together personal narrative, exploration of data, and engagement with scholarly sources in an accessible theology of surrogacy that is responsive to its complexities and generous to her interlocutors."

—Kendra G. Hotz, Rhodes College, author of Dust and Breath

"Masterfully integrating her own captivating story of serving as a surrogate mom at age 40 for close friends, Kao builds a compelling ethical framework for understanding surrogacy.... This is a must-read study for those curious about surrogacy and those interested in thoughtful, systematic deliberations about a complex ethical issue. Essential."

—P. K. Steinfeld, CHOICE