Materialising the perfect egg 'donor': examining the work of screening technologies in clinical, commercial and counselling practices
Within Europe, fertility treatment using donor eggs is increasing, with demand coming from a diverse and growing number of recipients, including older women and gay male couples. Within the EU, the practice is governed by common regulation, which states that human tissue must only be provided within principles of voluntary unpaid donation. However country-level policies and practices vary, and it has been argued that due to increasing demand and varying levels of compensation, there is effectively an unofficial egg market emerging within Europe. Simultaneously, forms of clinical screening – both biomedical and discursive - mean that the reproductive potential of some women are given priority over others within this context. This paper explores how a range of screening and selection techniques work to produce the ideal egg donor. Drawing on policy mapping, marketing analysis, and interview data from clinicians and egg providers in the UK, Belgium and Spain, it considers how professional and policy rationalities, screening tools and the knowledges they produce, materialise a particular construction of the idealised, healthy, altruistic ‘donor’. This idealised donor is typically free from psychological and genetic ‘risks’ and expresses motivations in alignment with the principles of voluntary and unpaid donation and as enshrined within European law. We consider whether these tools and technologies may be part of a set of increasingly commercialised choreographies within egg donation in Europe.
Citation : Hudson, N., Coveney, C., LaFuente, S., Provoost, V., Culley, L., Herbrand, C., Pavone, V., Pennings, G. (2018) Materialising the perfect egg ‘donor’: examining the work of screening technologies in clinical, commercial and counselling practices. British Sociological Association: Medical Sociology 50th anniversary Conference, Glasgow, September 2018.
Research Institute : Centre for Reproduction Research (CRR)