Accepted Paper:

The fabrication of kinship: medically assisted reproduction, law, religion and changing notions of relatedness among Orthodox Christians in Greece  


Ivi Daskalaki (Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences)
Venetia Kantsa (University of the Aegean)

Paper short abstract:

This paper discusses altering perceptions of relatedness associated with medically assisted reproduction among Orthodox Christians in Greece. It explores the medical, legal and cultural inducement for assisted reproduction in Greece in relation to religious discourses on ‘accepted’ forms of kinship.

Paper long abstract:

The cultural significance of parenthood in Greece is widely reported in the ethnographic literature. In such a context, assisted reproduction is viewed as a means to facilitate the fulfillment of personal goals and provides an answer to nationalist concerns regarding low fertility and birth rate. In 1983 the first IVF baby was born and by 2006 more than 50 assisted reproduction clinics and medical centers existed according to the European IVF-monitoring (EIM) Consortium for the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE). Legislation and regulation in Greece allows for preimplantation genetic diagnosis, embryo freezing, anonymous sperm and egg donation, embryo donation and surrogacy, research on genetic material and gives access to these technologies to married and non-married heterosexual couples and single women, giving Greece one of the most "liberal" profiles among European countries.

The proposed paper examines the medical, legal and cultural inducement for assisted reproduction in relation to official and unofficial religious discourses surrounding medical reproduction. Drawing on ongoing ethnographic research the paper discusses the official position of the Greek Orthodox Church regarding assisted reproduction technologies and juxtaposes this position with discourses concerning traditional and new forms of kinship elaborated by Orthodox women and men who have sought medically assisted fertility treatment. It demonstrates that most of the informants assess their actions to overcome infertility as well as the available range of medically assisted fertility treatments on the basis of a "personal" moral code that accepts or rejects certain forms of kinship or relatedness.

Panel P106
Rethinking assisted conception: dynamics of law, morality and religion