The Debt Financing of Parenthood
29 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2009 Last revised: 4 Jan 2010
Date Written: 2009
In this contribution to the symposium Show Me the Money: Making Markets in Forbidden Exchange, I explore an under-appreciated participant in the assisted reproduction and adoption industries: consumer lenders. Through fertility clinics and other service providers, financial institutions market and distribute loans specifically to finance acquisition of treatments, drugs, and human eggs. Adoption foundations and agencies advertise for-profit loans to intended parents, while small foundations offer adoption loans that appear to be low-cost financially but may condition loan approval on intended parent characteristics such as religious observance, marital status, sexual orientation, and adherence to traditional gender roles. After discussing how these specialty loans bolster descriptive claims of a thriving market for parenthood, this article explores three flash points at which repeat-playing lenders might alter the political economy of the parenthood market in unexpected ways: adoption versus assisted reproduction; integration of unpartnered and same-sex couples; and quality control over reproductive services.
Keywords: assisted reproduction, IVF, adoption, family law, commodification, reproductive markets, health care, consumer debt, bankruptcy
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