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Accepted Paper:

The undoing of MRKH and the doing of gestational pregnancy through uterus transplants  
Sophia Avice (Monash University) Andrea Whittaker (Monash University)

Paper short abstract:

We interviewed interlocuters with MRKH to understand how uterus transplant surgery impacts the very community it is targeted to aid. Through the technology of UTx the ‘doing’ of gestational pregnancy is positioned as a reproductive ‘choice’ for people with MRKH entailing normative assumptions.

Paper long abstract:

Uterus transplants (UTx) are currently undergoing development in clinical trials worldwide, to date, around 100 of these surgeries have resulted in the live births of around 40 healthy babies. This surgery has been pioneered in response to a specific condition called Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome (MRKH), where a biological female with XX chromosomes and secondary female sex characteristics is born without a uterus and an underdeveloped vaginal canal while still having ovaries and fallopian tubes. Formerly, people with MRKH only had options of surrogacy or adoption if they wanted to become parents, if accessible.

But UTx promises more than just infertility treatment – it is the opportunity to ‘do’ gestational pregnancy and ‘undo’ MRKH. Yet acknowledging this requires an examination of the social and cultural ideas of what the desired experience of pregnancy and parenthood is also entail ideas of what a normal body is.

In this study, interlocuters with MRKH participated in interviews in order to understand how this transplant surgery impacts upon the very community it is targeted to aid. Biological sex variation is pathologized in healthcare systems and those with MRKH find themselves heavily medicalised resulting in particular forms of care, infertility treatment, and in some cases UTx. Through the technology of UTx the ‘doing’ of gestational pregnancy is positioned as a reproductive ‘choice’ for people with MRKH as though it is equivalent to other forms of family formation, or decisions to remain childless. It also carries specific orientations towards what is considered the normative gendered body.

Panel P141
Doing and undoing reproduction [Medical Anthropology Europe [MAE]
  Session 1