Dilemmatic tensions around parenthood: the ambiguous third-party role in Assisted Reproductive Technologies and Surrogacy in France and Portugal

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Abstract

This article analyzes couples’ attitudes towards the third-party role in Assisted Reproductive Technologies with gamete donation, and problematizes parenthood and kinship. I base my analysis on 66 in-depth interviews with different ART actors (from beneficiaries to professionals) in France and Portugal, conducted as part of a research project already completed. Special focus is given to 19 interviews with heterosexual and homosexual couples who used third-party reproduction in Europe and the United States. I found a physical and moral detachment operation among heterosexual and lesbian couples vis-a-vis the donor of reproductive potential, who is depersonalized and reduced to a functionality. The objective is to preserve the intimacy of the couple and the autonomy of the parental project. This contrasts with innovative and enlarged family dynamics developed by gay couples, who integrate both female figures (surrogate and oocyte donor) in their children’s family history, through bonding efforts in a logic of reciprocity (gift and counter-gift). The purpose is to reject the negative image of a woman’s body being commodified while preserving the natural appearance of procreation. I conclude that a naturalist conception of kinship persists —one based on shared biogenetic substances that bind together one parent and the donor-conceived child— along with the centrality of biological processes such as pregnancy and childbirth. There are different ways of easing tensions inherent to the contractual intervention of third parties in the reproductive process. ART re-elaborates the line of demarcation between commodities and gifts and between living things and human beings, while reconfiguring family concepts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)381-404
Number of pages24
JournalPolítica y Sociedad
Volume56
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Keywords

  • tecnologías de reproducción asistida
  • donación de gametos
  • subrogación
  • terceros
  • (homo)paternidad
  • parentesco
  • (Homo) parenthood
  • Assisted Reproductive Technologies
  • Gamete donation
  • Kinship
  • Surrogacy

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