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Shall we stop talking about egg donation? Transference of reproductive capacity in the Spanish Bioeconomy

Abstract

More than 8% of babies born in Spain in 2014 were conceived through assisted reproductive techniques (ARTs); almost four out of every 10 babies born that year after direct-IVF depended on egg donation according to data from the Spanish Fertility Association. Drawing on qualitative fieldwork with 25 professionals linked either to researching reproduction or practicing reproduction using IVF (five researchers from universities and 20 professionals from 10 reproductive clinics), this paper suggests that the complex role of eggs, indeed what they actually are today within these bioeconomies, cannot be completely understood by relying solely on the concept of egg donation. Their roles are understood to be much better apprehended and visualized using the broader idea of transference of reproductive capacity, a concept that facilitates our understanding of the socio-technical practices in which eggs are currently entangled, signified, and made sense of. Thus, I argue that we ought to stop talking about egg donation (particularly when identifying it as a “technique”) and talk instead about the socio-technical practices of transference of reproductive capacity.

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Notes

  1. The full report of the survey has not been released at the time of writing the paper. I use the data offered within the press note the INE used to show its main results 28/11/2018 https://www.ine.es/prensa/ef_2018_a.pdf and an interesting report about this is published in CTXT by Eva Ferreras: https://ctxt.es/es/20190109/Politica/23786/Eva-Ferreras-maternidad-en-espana-dificultades-costes-edad.htm.

  2. As can be seen in the fanzine GenCrítica, written and published by the autonomous feminist movement in 1990.

  3. Of course, certain sectors from the Catholic Church have expressed their dislike towards ARTs or embryo cryopreservation, but their discursive focus has never been around ARTs. That is, the centrality that Catholicism has given to abortion and same sex marriage in Spain has never been extended to assisted reproduction.

  4. It is also distinctive because of its use of PGD, but fundamentally PGS, whose role has been previously analyzed and will not be studied here (Pavone and Arias 2012; Lafuente-Funes 2017b).

  5. This amount has been recently raised to 858 euros per month now.

  6. These data are Open Access and can be consulted here: http://www.ine.es.

  7. It does not follow it in exactly the same way (romance, for example, has not been that common in my fieldwork, but gender roles and expectations are).

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Acknowledgements

Funding was provided by Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad [Grant No. CSO-2619(2012-2014)]. I thank Vincenzo Pavone, main researcher of the project who funded this research, for his comments and for encouraging me to write this paper. I am particularly thankful to Cressida Limon and the comments received around this work by the participants at her seminar “Eggs, Milk and Honey: Law and Global Biocommodities” at Western Sydney University. Also, to the comments received at the Panel on Bioeconomies at the 4S meeting in Sydney, particularly those by Thomas Lemke, to whom I also must thank for his support. I am also thankful to the two anonymous reviewers of the manuscript: their comments helped improve the paper and made me think further about the ideas on it. Finally, I want to thank Jose Luis Aznarte, Amaia Orozco and Emily Mack for their comments and editions on this and earlier versions of this piece.

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Correspondence to Sara Lafuente-Funes.

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Lafuente-Funes, S. Shall we stop talking about egg donation? Transference of reproductive capacity in the Spanish Bioeconomy. BioSocieties 15, 207–225 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41292-019-00149-5

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Keywords

  • Feminist STS
  • Reproductive bioeconomies
  • Bioeconomies
  • Egg donation
  • Assisted reproduction