How Babies are Made: Online and Outsourced Charlotte Kroløkke

(In)Fertile Bodies on the Move:
Travelling for Egg Donation
Charlotte Kroløkke, Ph.D. & Associate Professor
University of Southern Denmark
[email protected]
Copenhagen University October, 2011
General overview
• Overview of fertility travel
• Theoretical perspectives on fertility travel and
globalization (anthropology, sociology, feminist
• Empirical and analytical framework
Why travel?
70,6 %
2,6 %
46,3 %
Shenfield m.fl. Human Reproduktion, 2010
Where do they go to?
• Sperm donation/single/lesbians: Denmark
• Egg donation: The Czech Republic, Spain,
Greece, Russia
• Surrogacy: USA, India
Where do they get information from?
73,6 %
9,4 %
24,5 %
13,2 %
Shenfield m.fl. Human Reproduktion, 2010
Thompson, C. (2005). Making Parents. The Ontological
Cambridge: The MIT Press.
Inhorn, M. (2009). Reproductive Disruptions. Gender,
Technology, and Biopolitics in the New Millennium.
New York & Oxford: Berghahn Books.
Mamo, L. (2007). Queering reproduction: Achieving
pregnancy in the age of technoscience. Durham, NC:
Duke University Press.
Waldby, C.; Cooper, M (2008). The Biopolitics of
Reproduction. Post-Fordist Biotechnology and
Women’s Clinical Labour. Australian Feminist Studies.
Vol. 23 no. 55, 57-73.
Bharadwaj, A. (2008). Biosociality and biocrossings:
encounters with assisted conception and
embryonic stem cells in India (pp. 98-116). In S.
Gibbon & C. Novas (Eds.). Biosocialities, Genetics and
the Social Sciences. Making biologies and identities.
Oxon: Routledge
Theoretical Frameworks on the Global Movement of
Bodies and Babies
1. Global care chains (Ehrenreich & Hochschild, Yeates)
2. Reproscapes / reproflows (Inhorn)
3. Performativity (Stacey)
Men and women ‘flowing’ across transnational borders
in search of reproductive ‘assistance’; and of
reproductive ‘assistors’ who ‘flow’ and are ‘flown’ to
other countries in transnational reproductive networks
(Inhorn 2010, p. 184).
Tissues that move from bodies to tissue banks to
laboratories to other bodies bring with them variously
ontological values around identity, affective values
around kinship, aging, and death, belief systems and
ethical standards, and epistemological values and
systems of research prestige, as well as use values and
exchange values (Walby & Mitchell 2006, p. 34).
Legislative context:
• Egg donation in Denmark: altruism mixes with
gender equality
• Egg donation in Spain: altruism mixes with
maternal rights
Danish context:
• Mimicking the natural (”individuals who are permitted to making use of
reproductive technologies should age-wise represent the age
corresonding to when you naturally have children” (p. 12, Law on Artifical
• Compensation practices: Are eggs equal to sperm? Or is egg donation
more artificial than sperm donation?
• Altruism as a socially more acceptable feminine behavior
Spanish context:
• ”Women helping women” – a new pan-femininity in which Danish women
regain their femininity through the use of another woman’s eggs
• Discourse of maternal rights
• Eggs as ”excess material”
• Economic compensation = reward
Specific study:
How do Danish recipients construct
idealized “Spanish” donor bodies?
How is motherhood negotiated
and re-articulated in the making of
Danish babies through “Spanish”
Egg donation in the clinical discourses
”The donor delivers her ova (eggs) which will be brought
together with spermatozoa, and the embryos resulting from this
will be transferred to the receptor woman, who will thus fulfil
her wish thanks to the anonymous and unselfish help of another
woman” (
(in)fertile stories:
• Intent
• Genetics
• Biology
It was extremely challenging for me (to go to
Spain) because I was all alone and because I have
been raised as well as I have ... to be a good girl...
You don’t do something like that. It is illegal... So
the first ticket I bought for Spain and went down
to them well I was almost feeling like I had to
tiptoe around to not get caught. Then after a
while you get more professional. But it is really
Interview with Rita September 2010.
The doing of motherhood
Yes, I would like to be pregnant. Yes, I would like to nurse and I
would love to have a baby. This is what all my girlsfriends and my
siblings have gotten. And the older I get, the more I realize that
this is a big part of it for me also (interview with Lone,
september 2011)
In reality when I saw it. You only see the two eggs right. There
was not only one egg but two eggs … one had developed into six
cells and the other into seven cells and that is great. I did feel
like…. They are mine. I want you to develop. I am going to take
care of you know (interview with Lone, september 2011).
Imagining donors, eggs, and nationality……………
The descriptions of recipients’ desires regarding donor
traits in transnationally trafficked eggs congeal aspects
of the racialized national body. They do so in a way that
incorporates ideas about hybridity and selfimprovement through mixing. The parents of the ova
donation children hope that their children will be a
better mixture than they are, and that they come from
better stock, that is European stock (Nahman 2006, p.
Ruth: There is a woman who wanted to help another couple and ... I
imagine someone who must have a lot of faith in people so of-course...
I will always, in some way, be indebted to this woman because without
her, it would not be able to happen (emotional with tears). But I see
her more as a woman who chooses to help other people.
Interviewer: Would you like to meet her if you could?
Ruth: No, I have no need for that. And I am also thinking that it would
not be that appropriate as far as the child is concerned... but that is
because I am thinking that it is… that it is not… I am thinking that to
be a mother… if it was adoption it would be entirely different because,
then, she has carried the child and given birth to it. And then, the
situation is entirely different. It also creates an emotional connection
through the pregnancy, carrying it… whereas egg donation…the
women who… well I think that the women who donate are not
connected to their eggs in this way.
(Interview with Ruth, August 2011).
I also feel like for instance with Russia... Then, I would
prefer a Spanish child—mentally... I mean their mentality...
And and... it is funny because she is just like that. Whether
it is me or the way we live or... She is happy and outgoing
and easy and charming and loves other people (kissing
sounds) and it ... My brother has been married to a
Russian which was really quite the experience, I must say...
And it... Whether or not we have a national soul? I really
dont know but but I do think that people in Spain are so
warm and friendly in a way that we are missing some of
here at home and really are missing in Russia
Interview with Rita September, 2010
“They say that Latvian women are very
attractive—but really… have you ever seen an
attractive Latvian woman?”
Interview with fertility doctor, Trianglen Copenhagen, April 2010.
But I also say about her... I also say that I am more and more
convinced that it is Antonio Banderras (laughs)... The more I
look at her... The more convinced I am... Antonio
Banderras... And people look at me (laughs)... Because she
looks like one like that right...
Interview with Rita September 2010.
Egg donation as a way to regain ”your” femininity…..
Interview with Rita, recipient of egg and sperm donation in IVI Barcelona:
They (the egg donors) come and go in the IVI clinic just like we do....
So we are all sitting in that waiting room right... But you can clearly
see that young Spanish women walk in one door and older
European women walk in the other door (laughs). Yeah... really. I
am not at all in doubt who is who when you walk in the door. And
funny enough... Sometimes you wonder :”Is she the one?”. Well, ofcourse she is not because she has already been there and so on...
And and ... None of them looked like they were dying of starvation
or oppressed or anything... I remember one who came swaying
through the waiting room with hips, big breasts and the whole nine
yards and the entire waitingroom was like (shows her mouth
dropping and laughs)... And she went right into the room where it
was all taking place...Wow...
reviewing the making of ”own”
children through fertility travel:
less emphasis on shared genes, more
emphasis on shared biology
less emphasis on the market, more
emphasis on desire, longing for a child,
and choices
The fight to get there… if we ever get there. I
think it is fair to say that I already love this child
because I have had to go through so many
processes in my head to get to this (interview
with Line, august 2010).
Global choices, global families

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