Eggs as Capital: Human Egg Procurement in the Fertility Industry and the Stem Cell Research Enterprise
Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, Vol. 34, p. 763, 2009
19 Pages Posted: 24 Jun 2009 Last revised: 18 Apr 2013
Date Written: June 23, 2009
The fertility industry and the stem cell research enterprise are treated at law and in discourse as separate activities. Yet, eggs and embryos bind them. They are the raw materials of production for both activities. This article examines the medical and commercial practices that form the process of procuring human eggs for use in the fertility industry and research enterprise. It also provides discursive analysis of the regulatory debates and the accompanying narrative explanations. The examination reveals that it is not just the corporeal egg, but its transformation into biocapital as a result of its use in activity that combines biomedicine and capitalism. The article then turns to the more specific regulatory debate about egg procurement for research. It suggests that the regulatory critics, in particular, deploy an assumption that extrinsic and intrinsic values cannot coexist. While that captures the fears of regulatory supporters, as well, the regulatory proposals suggest a starting point for negotiating shared space for the commercial as well as human aspects of egg procurement.
Keywords: assisted reproductive technology, stem cell, IVF, egg donor, egg donation, biocapital
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