Can markets protect reproductive rights? It sounds like a rhetorical question, or even a patently absurd one, because markets, we are tempted to respond, have nothing to do with reproductive freedom. Markets are about money and prices, about bringing buyers and sellers together in a neutral and impersonal environment. Markets do not care about reproductive rights, or indeed about any rights at all. How could they possibly be used to protect them?
Yet the apparent absurdity of this connection does not necessarily make it untrue. For although markets are clearly not designed to advance reproductive rights, they may still be able, under some circumstances, to provide this critical function. In fact, the very impersonality of markets and their sheer lack of normative content might actually make them uniquely capable of protecting reproductive freedoms.
The remainder of this chapter will explore this counterintuitive proposition, examining whether – and how, and why – markets could be harnessed to the service of this particular right.
OF RIGHTS AND MARKETS
The first point to consider is the normative void that lies at the center of commerce. Markets, as already noted, are not inherently defined by a commitment to any set of rights. They have no goals aside from their own function and no particular commitment to any of those who operate along their structure. Instead, markets are entirely impersonal and mechanical constructs, bringing together buyers and sellers, supply and demand, in a chain of interactions mediated by price.